As a One Direction fan, I remember listening to, Made in the A.M., and thinking “wow, this album has a wide range of different sounds” and lo and behold, that particular album was the one where the guys really got to showcase their own unique sounds.
Now in the wake of post One Direction, we get to see the guys branch out into their solo careers and have the opportunity to really familiarize ourselves with their own sound. Niall Horan’s first solo album, Flicker, which was his first solo album since the band’s break up, is truly one of the most surprising albums of this year for me but for good reason.
Flicker is so good and I’ll have to confess this (One Direction fans, do not come after me) but Horan wasn’t even my favorite member from One Direction; but this album has completely changed my perspective on his musical abilities and songwriting capabilities.
The album starts with a fun song that you just want to dance and shimmy to. “On the Loose” is a show that has cool, slick and sexy. The track is ok; it gives you a sense of how Horan is trying to be a little sexy but the writing is mediocre and the song is a little flat. The song does start off strong with the electric guitar but it shimmers down quick.
But don’t worry, the songs on that album that I really enjoy surpass the ones that are just ok. Speaking of the songs that I adored, “This Town” is probably of one of my favorite tracks that hit the radio before the album’s full release.
“This Town” has such heartfelt lyrics where you catch yourself relating to it on a multitude of different levels. We have all had loves that ended, but sometimes the feelings prolong long after the breakup. There are always things we want to tell our ex or the one that got away and this song conveys the right words, tone, and feels that need to be said in those situations.
But let’s highlight the next track, which didn’t make it on the radio but it’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album. “Seeing Blind” is a duet with Maren Morris. The blend of acoustic guitar and Morris’ country twang voice adds such great texture to the song. It is such a lighthearted song that you can’t help but sing along with a smile planted on your face.
The innocence of the song “Seeing Blind” doesn’t linger long as Horan gets you swooning over his sexy lyrics from “Slow Hands.” I remember hearing this song on the radio and thinking “wow, I didn’t know Niall had it in him.” I can definitely see, in this song in particular, how the singer/songwriter is leaving the boy band days behind and bringing in this new sexy persona; and I got to say, I am all for it. But before you all hot and bothered, let’s move to another one of his sweet and innocent songs. The next track is his newest radio hit off the album and that’s “Too Much to Ask.”
“Too Much to Ask” shows a softer side to the artist and it highlights a part of a breakup that not a lot of people talk about. It highlights the period of limbo where we find ourselves moving on but there are instances where we catch ourselves thinking about them and missing them. No matter how you deal with any breakup, Horan makes it clear that even after the relationship that person is still a part of you. Sound wise, the song is smooth like whiskey, where you feel the pain of a breakup but the prolonged notes of the guitar make the song much more soothing than anticipated.
Probably one of the most fun songs off the album and one that shows the singer’s Irish roots is the track “On My Own.” This song is pure fun and one that you just want to sing with your best lads over a round of beer, smiles and joyous merriment. The track is definitely one that you will have on repeat.
It seems as if the artist likes to test the waters and go back and forth between fun tracks and emotional ballads. In an interview, Horan reveals the girl that inspired the song “Mirrors.” Horan was on his phone when he looked up and noticed a girl was upset. Then the waiter walked over to her and made her laugh and her laugh made Horan look up and look over at her. It was a small moment but one that sparked the song that later became “Mirrors.”
Collectively, the songs on Flicker are very poetic and different. Each song has its own sound but Horan’s acoustic sound still remains intact throughout. His songs convey a sense of maturity and emotion that we are just now seeing from the artist. There are songs that truly melt my heart, ones I want to listen to while enjoying a starry night sky and others that just make me want to dance and have fun. Flicker is definitely an album that it’s sort of a mixed bag where Horan is trying out different sounds and trying to find his voice as a solo artist. But despite which route he takes, his voice and lyrics are versatile and can speak to a wide audience and not just to the teenage One Direction fanbase.