National MusicReviews

Album Review: Niall Horan – ‘Flicker’

The Irish star has proven himself as an artist who has what it takes to make it in the industry without back-up.

It’s not easy to be taken seriously as a solo artist after being part of a boyband. Sure, Justin Timberlake beat the odds and will be performing at the Super Bowl 2018 (though how bad are we all secretly hoping for an N*Sync reunion?). But what about Lance Bass or Joey Fatone? Most people now know them as “the other people in N*Sync.” That’s rough.

The split of One Direction saw its members go in different musical directions. Zayn Malik’s Mind of Mine went R&B; Liam Payne’s solo singles have gone for an eclectic mix of pop and R&B; Louis Tomlinson’s gone full dance-pop; and Harry Styles delivered an alternative rock-pop debut earlier this year.

And now for Niall Horan.

For someone who was given the backseat for most of One Direction’s early work, the Irish star has proven himself as an artist who has what it takes to make it in the industry without back-up.

Is the album perfect? No. The album is a safe venture into the solo-artist world. “On the Loose, the opening track, is light, airy and perhaps not what fans would expect from the Irish singer/songwriter. Yet while unexpected, it certainly isn’t a smash hit (it also sounds reminiscent of 1D’s “What a Feeling”). The first single from the album, “This Town, is also slow and lovely, but nothing new in a world where Ed Sheeran has perfected the heart-broken ballad again and again.

Still, the album is sure to be a commercial success and a nice lead-in to Horan’s solo career. “Slow Hands” instantly grabbed the attention of radio stations everywhere upon its release and for good reason. The sultry hit makes you want to move. Songs like “Flicker” and “Paper Houses” show off his songwriting skills, with lyrics like, “Our paper houses reach the stars / ‘Til we break and scatter worlds apart / Yeah, I paid the price and own the scars / Why did we climb and fall so far?”

With a hand in crafting every song on the record, Horan’s knack for songwriting shines, and even where the album wanes, the potential is evident. The standout track of the record, however, goes to “You and Me. The last track of the record, “You and Me” perfectly exemplifies Niall Horan’s handiwork, and what will keep him in the solo business for years to come.

Now the rest of the world knows what One Direction fans knew all along – that Horan is an artist oozing with songwriting talent and the vocal chops to match.

4/5

Recommended Tracks:

Slow Hands
Paper Houses
You and Me

FFO:

Ed Sheeran
James Arthur
Jamie Lawson

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