Niall Horan - Flicker: Review
Although the quietest member of One Direction, Niall Horan’s debut album Flicker is potentially the most promising of all their solo endeavours since they called a ‘hiatus’ two years ago. Unlike his bandmates, Horan has avoided creating a sound wildly different to that of his previous music. Instead, we are faced with an amalgamation of folk-pop genres that remains reminiscent of later One Direction material (think a mash-up of Four and Made in the AM and you’re onto a winner).
The opening track, ‘On the Loose’, though heavier on bass melodies and drum backing than the rest of the album, sounds vaguely similar to Made in the AM’s ‘What a Feeling’ with the same guitar rift throughout. ‘Since We’re Alone’ showcases his inspiration from Fleetwood Mac, resulting in something almost as mellow as their 1977 hit ‘Dreams’. Another song that requires attention, arguably, is ‘On My Own’, a possible ‘anthem’ in which Horan refrains from the emotional and romantic narrative of his acoustic creation. In particular, this song really adheres to the upbeat folk genre that he has only mana
ged to slightly touch upon this time around. Still, his single choices prior to the album release are questionable after hearing the full extent of a year and half of song writing. ‘This Town’ remains one of the most innocent songs on the record, detailing all the things he never got to say to a lost love, but it is almost too simple when paired up with the sultry, and slightly auto-tuned ‘Slow Hands’. Whilst the former is a clear indication of his skills as an acoustic artist, the latter seems distant from the rest of the album, disrupting the cohesion of it. There’s no denying that it’s a feel good, sexy track, though.
Produced by the likes of Julian Bunetta (frequent producer of One Direction albums) and Greg Kurstin (10 time Grammy nominated and has worked alongside Beck, the Foo Fighters and Sia, to name a few), the album should seem somewhat more ambitious, but, as it stands, Flicker is just comfortable and safe. It manages to set the tone of what Horan wants his music to sound like without delving too far into it, constructing a gradual change from the pop vibes of where he’s come from. Maybe this was done intentionally; it has successfully managed to retain the fan-base of his boyband days, likely to top the album charts as his singles have on the US iTunes charts.
By no means is this a bad thing though. Whereas his bandmate, Zayn Malik, walked straight into a solo career just months after leaving the Brit award winning boyband, Horan has taken his time, and the end result is a quite frankly enjoyable record. Flicker is simply the beginning, and though it could have gone further down the folk road, it has certainly provided an encouraging solo debut that has set out a clear path to follow.