As each member of One Direction starts their solo career, they all find their own niche. ZAYN took the sensual pop route, while Harry Styles took it back to his influences with a rock-based record. Louis Tomlinson is dabbling in electronica, and Liam Payne is building a dancey pop record. Niall Horan is here with his debut solo record, and he's traveling down a gentle ballad path. Niall Horan channels his heart in Flicker, writing songs that come from his deepest emotions.
The quiet guy of the group often has the most things to say. That is very evident on Flicker. Much of the album revolves around love; but, more specifically, around wanting his words to be heard by someone he cares for. Single 'This Town' spells it out perfectly in the chorus: "And I want to tell you everything / The words I never got to say the first time around," Horan chanting about wanting a second chance to make amends and say what he wanted to say. It feels like he's in constant limbo with his own thoughts, trying to figure out what's right and wrong. He discusses that narrative in 'Paper Houses,' which croons "And our paper houses reach the stars / 'Til we break and scatter worlds apart / Yeah, I paid the price and on the scars / Why do we climb and fall so far" in its chorus, referring to a relationship that's being torn apart by high expectations.
It's not all tragedy for Horan, though. In fact, it's quite the opposite: much of Flicker is about being in love rather than falling out of it. Plenty of tracks like 'Slow Hands' with Maren Morris and opening track 'On The Loose' sing sweetly and sensually about love, celebrating intimacy and its fragility. Some songs feel like a bit of a cop-out ('Too Much To Ask' is just an Ed Sheeran ripoff), but most do have some real sentiments in them. Closing track 'You and Me' brings the album out on a promise: the slow, chill pop rock track comes from the perspective of someone still trying to find his way, but promising that one day he'll be the man his lover deserves. It even seems to go bigger, taking his position in One Direction into account. One day he'll be the person he wants to be for his fans. He can rise up and let go of what his past may have sentenced him to.
Niall Horan channels his heart in Flicker, really baring all his emotions and stories about love in his music. It's not bitter, but celebratory. Niall Horan wants his audience to know that he's learned from love and life, and he's ready to be the person that he wants to be.
Favorite Tracks: This Town, On The Loose
Least Favorite Track: Too Much To Ask
Rating: 76 / 100
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