Much to the delight of Directioners everywhere, One Direction unexpectedly announced the release of their fourth album, aptly titled Four, earlier this month. It’s set to hit retailers on Nov. 17, just in time for the holiday season.
It’s a “window into how they’re feeling and what they’re going through. The happiness and the sadness and the ups and downs,” 1D’s frequent collaborator Julian Bunetta, who serves as a co-producer/co-songwriter on Four, told Billboard. “Everybody wants to not settle. Nobody wants to repeat the formula.”
Before the album drops, 1D prepares for the release of its official lead single, “Steal My Girl,” on Sept. 29. While the track has yet to even get its first spin, 1D already has fans buzzing with anticipation. They’ve previously offered up one of the album’s other cuts, “Fireproof,” as a free download for 24 hours, the day of the album’s announcement on Sept. 8. And fans gobbled it up, downloading it 1.1 million times during that short window.
“I think that everybody felt like this was a nice, little change in pace,” he said. “It’s a nice breather and a nice sort of more sophisticated, artful way of making a pop song for kids from 8 to 80.”
Given the song’s unexpected, laid back vibe, he knows that the fans are looking for music that isn’t always the obvious, full throttle choice like “Best Song Ever” or “Live While We’re Young.”
“Fans want to be challenged and they want to be led and taken to new places and hear things they haven’t heard. And the boys definitely listen to the fans. And they’re the ones who are giving me the go ahead to also keep pushing it and trying things and making bold musical statements,” he said. “And it’s so freeing because we can just do whatever we want.”
However, he noted, don’t expect the album to mirror that from start to finish. “‘Fireproof’ was a color in the One Direction musical rainbow.” The album, much like the song, will be “strong melodically and lyrically and it’s going to be tastefully done whatever it is, but it’s not all the songs have a ‘Fireproof’ vibe at all,” he shared.
Four comes one year after their massive Midnight Memories dropped. It sold 546,000 copies in its first week, giving the group a chart-topping threepeat. And, given the fandom around the group, they just might have another hit on their hands.
The group and team recorded it around the world and it was “an evolving experiment.” With another year of musical growth and success behind them, Bunetta shared that the lyrics were an important part process this time.
“All the songs on this record, there’s a lot of intent lyrically with the message we’re trying to convey,” he said. “It wasn’t just about ‘oh this word sounds good;’ there’s a lot of intent about, and definitely different layers of messages.”
In the end, he notes, the band wanted to “push the ball up the hill and make something that’s lasting, make a piece of art that can last for a while. And the band are obviously at such a large level, that they didn’t want to just phone it in.”
With the album’s release around the bend, the guys are quite busy. Currently, the band is on their Where We Are tour, which wraps up on October 5 in Miami. Then they will release the concert special, One Direction: Where We Are, to theaters Oct. 11 and 12.