BY DREW LACOUTURE
Two of modern music’s biggest acts coincidentally released their best albums on the same day.
“Made In the A.M.” is One Direction’s first album without former member Zayn Malik and “Purpose” is Justin Bieber’s first that features the production of Skrillex.
Despite these changes and their fans growing up, both artists conjure up some stellar pop tunes that are not only topping the charts, but also leave only good impressions.
While neither has matured a whole lot since their last outings, there is no doubt there was an evolution in the songwriting on these albums. Of course, both continue to talk about relationships with One Direction being the bright and confident voice of the day time and Bieber representing the regretful and sensitive vibes of the night time.
The four lads of One Direction have credit to over nine songs here and while they play it relatively safe, lyrics like, “if you’re looking for someone to write your breakup songs about, Baby, I’m perfect,” are cool little jabs we have not heard from the band.
Though cheesy at times, Bieber’s writing has also improved showing more personality than ever and attempts an activist song with “Children.” One Direction just has a bit more edge to the pen.
As for the actual performances, this is the best both have ever sounded. Though Bieber still indulges in his growing and whining from time to time, (“Mark My Words”) his voice is much more enjoyable because his melodies are subtle and his voice overall just has more range. Bieber leans more towards the style of Chris Brown than Usher and it really works for him.
“Made in the A.M.” really has all four members of One Direction coming into their own sound on this album. This is especially true for Louis Tomlinson who completely steals the show on the ballad “Love You Goodbye.”
It is still frustrating that they do not harmonize, but the unified vocals at the end of the emotional “Infinity” and the soft rock inspired “What a Feeling” soar. However, Bieber’s improvement vocally is undeniable and show cases effort and killer melodic choices we have nott seen from him before.
These are also the most well rounded and most focused project instrumentation/production wise from both artists.
“Purpose” is a dance-pop album at heart with tracks like “Sorry,” “Been You” and the chorus of “Company” really make it hard to stay still. The producers did a decent job making Bieber’s vocals balance with the stellar instrumentals. The vocal layering on the Ed Sheeran “Love Yourself” is either hit or miss depending on who you talk to.
One Direction’s pop-rock influences are as solid as ever. “Hey Angel” and the single “Drag Me Down” opens the album with an arena-rock feel. “Never Enough” and “Olivia” are well put together tracks that really show why One Direction is the best boy-band to play when someone is having a down day. Although, the percussion on “Long Way Down” does not really match the song. This is the first One Direction album that does not feel bloated.
This goes without saying; these two records have several flaws. The best tracks on “Purpose” are those without any features. Big Sean, Halsey and even Nas do not add a single positive aspect to their songs. In fact, the first third of “Purpose” is quite better than the rest. “Made In the A.M.” also has some boring tracks like “End of The Day” and “Walking in the Wind.” Additionally a lot of One Direction’s songs (“Temporary Fix” and “Wolves” especially) could have used real instrumentation. One would hope that what could be the final record from One Direction would be slightly more ambitious.
Overall “Made in the A.M.” and “Purpose” are favorable pop albums and are their artists’ best work. It is quite shocking how enjoyable and catchy these two albums are. However “Purpose” just has a bit more of replay value because of its addicting hooks and production. These are not groundbreaking albums, but those who have hated Justin Bieber and One Direction for years should give some of these tracks a shot.
SU Flyer gives “Purpose” a 7.5/10 and “Made in The A.M.” a 7/10 with “Purpose” being a slightly better album.