Album Review: Niall Horan, ‘Flicker’
Written by Augusta Battoclette on January 27, 2018
Artist: Niall Horan
Record Label: Capitol Records
Release date: October 20, 2017
Image courtesy of stereoboard.com
The miracle of One Direction’s members is that they can go so many different directions with their musical style. When Zayn left the band in 2015, he went on to be a very prominent R&B artist. As the band continues their hiatus, the other four have maintained successful careers in various other genres as well.
With Niall’s debut solo album Flicker, he has branched into a different style: a sound that spans multiple genres inspired by many classic artists like The Police, Adele, Maroon 5, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles and many more.
Every single song on Flicker has a unique sound and genre that, when you listen to the whole album all the way through, all comes together to create a beautiful piece of art.
The opening song is “On The Loose”, an upbeat quirky song that sounds very similar to One Direction’s “Made in the A.M.” album with a hint of The Police’s sound. The synth beats and catchy rhythm straight from the beginning makes you want to get up and dance to it all night long.
Next is “This Town”, Horan’s first solo single and definitely a beautiful slow dance ballad. The song relies solely on guitar and vocals, making it one of the better acoustic songs on the album.
“Seeing Blind”, the only song on Flicker with another singer’s vocals (Maren Morris) gives a distinct country-Taylor Swift-but-better vibe that simultaneously makes you want to start line dancing and sobbing at the same time.
Horan’s second solo single, “Slow Hands” is an infectious song that samples the style of Ed Sheeran along with a weird but intriguing combination of bandmates’ Liam Payne and Harry Styles styles. The echoey vocals sound similar to Styles’ solo work while the backing drum beat sounds like something Payne would have in his solo songs.
The fifth song on the album, “Too Much To Ask” is definitely Horan’s strongest and best song. It manages to showcase his incredible vocals that were often overlooked in One Direction. You can jam out to this song wherever and whenever, but at the same time, like “Seeing Blind”, you can definitely cry your eyes out to it. This mastery of a song really makes you appreciate all of Horan’s abilities.
“Paper Houses” is one of the more dreary tracks. This doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t good, it is just a more monotonous of a song than the others. Every song on the album has its own style, and “Paper Houses” style isn’t really unique. It sounds like every other pop-infused indie ballad that you would hear on an alternative radio station. It is also one of the few songs that you can’t really jam out to.
One of the better songs lyrically on the album is “Since We’re Alone”. The dreamy, melodious feel takes inspiration straight from Fleetwood Mac. Interestingly enough, Horan’s vocals sound extremely similar to vocals on the album “Harry Styles”. This is not too surprising, as Styles music also takes inspiration from Fleetwood Mac.
The album’s title track slows down and really emphasizes Horan’s unique vocals. However, the slowness of the song is also its downfall. 4 minutes and 18 seconds is too long for such a stripped down song and it makes it hard to appreciate Horan’s abilities. This being said, the lyrics of “Flicker” are beautifully written and are what makes the song salvageable.
“Fire Away” is a beautifully put together slow ballad with an infectious drum line and backing vocals that induce a dream-like feel. Horan’s soft-spoken voice adds a nostalgic bit to the song, as well.
The tenth song on Flicker is a subtle homage to mellow classic rock songs but with Horan’s own twist. “You And Me” is definitely one of the more overlooked songs on the album, but it is just as infectious as “Slow Hands” and “Too Much To Ask”. Even though it is slow, the beat is still enticing to dance to.
“On My Own” pays tribute to Horan’s Irish roots, with a hip Irish jig starting the song off. It also showcases his range of vocals and his ability to combine multiple genres of music (country, pop, alternative and Irish-inspired guitar chords) into one song.
“Mirrors” also sounds like a song that should be on One Direction’s Made in the A.M., and a slow dance song that would play at a wedding. It isn’t anything special, but a good filler song to lift up the rest of the album.
The final song on Flicker, “The Tide” sounds like the kind of song in a movie when the main character is ‘discovering’ him or herself and realizes that they’re in love with someone. It’s a beautiful, empowering song with an uplifting chorus and a great way to end the album.
All in all, despite some fallbacks and weaker songs, Flicker is an unexpectedly great album, and much more suited to Horan’s style than many One Direction albums. Horan has come so far from being the One Direction member who just played the guitar and rarely ever got solos. With his debut album, Horan proves that he is just as capable of producing quality music and is deserving of success just as much as his band mates.