The wait is finally over! Over a year after launching a solo career with debut single “This Town,” Niall Horan’s first full-length LP, Flicker, is finally here. Horan is now the third member of One Direction to release a solo album (following Zayn Malik’s Mind of Mine and Harry Styles’ self-titled effort), and the 13-track collection shows his versatility as an artist and certainly stacks up nicely compared to his bandmates. Check out our track by track breakdown of the album below.
On The Loose
Horan has stated on several occasions that one of his biggest musical inspirations is Fleetwood Mac, and their influence is felt in the album’s opening track. “On The Loose” is a breezy and sway-worthy track that shows off the singer’s range with sprinkles of surprise falsettos.
The Irishman’s lead single earned him not just a Top 40 hit but appropriate comparisons to pal Ed Sheeran for its perfect marriage of soft acoustic strumming and poignant lyrics. It’s endearing, sweet, and simple but rather forgettable compared to other tracks.
Seeing Blind (featuring Maren Morris)
Joined by Grammy-winning country star (and Flicker World Tour opening act) Maren Morris, “Seeing Blind” is an upbeat duet about the surprising joys of love. The singers’ voices blend beautifully on the chorus, however, Morris’ vocal power seems to drown out Horan at times.
Described as one of the final tracks Horan wrote for the album, “Slow Hands” was no doubt a pleasant surprise. As the album’s second (and highest charting) single, Horan flipped the switch in his songwriting to create a funky, seductive hit no one would ever expect from the wholesome and innocent Irishman.
Too Much To Ask
Following the pattern of his first two singles, Niall showed a different side of himself as an artist with this heartbreaking piano ballad. His voice pushes the boundaries of his range in what is arguably the album’s most mature song.
The heartbreak and despair of “Too Much To Ask” continues in “Paper Houses,” which equates a fragile relationship with a house of cards. There is the slightest twinge of country in the production, but not enough to be a standout track off the album.
Since We’re Alone
Fleetwood Mac influences run deep again in “Since We’re Alone,” which details the struggle of one lover trying to get their once-damaged partner to open up to them and trust to take the fall. Horan proves to be an old soul not just through the musical style here but also with the mature lyrics.
The album’s title track serves as Horan’s plea for a once strong love not to dim out entirely. It’s understandable why he chose to name his debut album after this song, which is a standout between the vulnerability in Horan’s voice and lyrics, as well as providing beautiful instrumentals.
Horan’s voice is at its most delicate and soft in this jazz-inspired song, giving the album a nice change of pace. “Fire Away” isn’t necessarily strong enough to be a hit single, but serves better as an underrated deep cut that Horan should capitalize on during performances to connect with his fans far and wide.
You and Me
Horan’s lower register on all verses is the star of this mellow, mid-tempo song. The chorus is perhaps a nod to his hectic lifestyle that has prevented him from embracing love (“Time has never been on our side / So won’t you wait for me?”).
On My Own
“On My Own” celebrates the low-key bachelor lifestyle Horan has become known for since being in the spotlight. The stomping chorus offers the only glimmer of traditional Irish music fans were sure Horan would incorporate in his writing.
U2 meets Maroon 5 in “Mirrors,” which is lyrically reminiscent of the latter’s “She Will Be Loved” and builds up to a soaring chorus. Overall, it shows another side of the Irishman’s style and will likely be a fan-favorite during his Flicker World Tour.
“The Tide” is a strong closing track, particularly with the persistent chorus that shows Horan’s potential in the pop/rock genre, and is well-rounded like the rest of the album.
Tell us your thoughts on Flicker in the comments below and don’t miss out on seeing Niall on tour on his current intimate Flicker Sessions trek and next year’s Flicker World Tour with Maren Morris. Tickets for both available here.