Sure, One Direction, the hugely well-known British boy band also, has actually been playing concerts for months as a four-item adhering to the headline-generating leave of Zayn Malik, who said in March that he necessary “some private time out of the spotlight.” But when I observed the group recently at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego — the initially North Amerihave the right to date of a people tour that started prior to Malik break-up — what struck me was exactly how little the show was doing to acknowledge the band’s fresh configuration.

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Namong One Direction’s continuing to be members said a word around their former mate, and also none of the music or staging appeared to have been updated in Malik’s absence. The performance felt choose one of those doctored household photos from which somebody’s ex-husband has been crudely chopped.

You gain a clearer image of tomorrow’s One Direction from the band’s new single, “Drag Me Down,” which appeared virtual late last week and also, according to Spotify, set a document for the the majority of streams in a single day on that company with even more than 4.75 million. (It vaulted instantly to No. 1 on Apple Music too.) And despite those superior statistics, the future looks surprisingly modest.

The first taste from the group’s fifth studio album, promised in November, “Drag Me Down” breaks from One Direction’s establiburned legacy of splashy introductions; it’s decidedly smaller-scaled than “Steal My Girl,” the swaggering lead cut from last year’s “Four,” or the mock-heroic “Best Track Ever,” from 2013’s “Midnight Memories.”

Sonically, we’re basically talking around a midtempo pop-rock jam via springy guitars that recontact the Police (or, if we’re being less charitable, the band also Magic! in its 2014 hit “Rude”). Lyrically, “Drag Me Down” starts out as velvety word soup -- “I gained a river for a heart, and also baby you’re a boat,” sings Harry Styles -- prior to solidifying into an ode to a steadrapid lover that “stood by me as soon as no one else was ever before behind me.”

Those attributes nod to other establimelted 1D traditions: knowing rips from various other artists’ songs (such as “Best Tune Ever’s” near-duplication of the synth riff from “Baba O’Riley” by the Who) and also lyrics that fans might plausibly conclude are really about them. But in the past, One Direction flexed those aspects via a winning audacity: “Stockholm Syndrome,” for instance, gets downideal kinky in its winking summary of being tied down by a shadowy hostage-taker.

And tbelow was somepoint practically confrontational around the warm soft-rock textures of tracks favor “Night Changes” and also “Fireproof,” as though Styles and also his bandmates were baiting anti-teen-pop types encouraged that a boy band also couldn’t possibly sound so a lot choose the vaunted Fleethardwood Mac. (Sorry, grumps: This boy band can.)

The grown-up vibe of “Drag Me Dvery own,” in contrast, carries no such charge; it’s even more or less what you’d expect from a band of 4 good-looking white men in the age of Coldplay and also Imagine Dragons, down to the vaguely EDM-ish pre-chorus. In a statement, One Direction’s label said the song “showcases a much more mature One Direction sound,” and also maybe that’s the just play accessible to a previously baby-challenged team through at least one member, Louis Tomlinkid, apparently collection to come to be a father.

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Still, it’s basic to wonder if some of the tradenote excitement in One Direction’s music slipped out along with Malik, that for years seemed to serve as this outfit’s JC Chasez to Styles’ Justin Timberlake. Does Malik have actually a record in him as appealingly freaky as Chasez’s “Schizophrenic,” which that ‘N Sync member released in 2004? Soon we’ll find out: Last week, simply days prior to “Drag Me Down” appeared, Malik announced on Twitter that he’d signed a solo address which he inhas a tendency to “show you that i really am.” (So a lot for that longed-for exclusive time.)

Then again, possibly we’re better off trying to find thrills currently from One Direction’s proteges in 5 Seconds of Summer. Opening-act veterans of a number of 1D tours, these closely scrappy pop-punk males broke out last year through a self-titled deyet complete of crunchy guitars and bad-boy come-ons favor the one in their best hit: “You look so perfect standing there in my American Apparel underwear.”

Yet nopoint around 5 Seconds of Summer led me to mean the Australian band to rerotate, as it did in mid-July, with “She’s Kinda Hot,” a delighttotally insolent fist-pumper that outdoes “Drag Me Down” in virtually every way. It’s funnier, catchier and even more shameless in its cribbing (in this case of the main riff from Weezer’s “Pork and Beans”).