The leaves are finally beginning to change color, and Niall Horan has released his debut solo album, Flicker, that would pair well with a mug of hot apple cider.
Horan has been performing the album over the past two months at his “Flicker Sessions,” a short but worldwide tour of small venues. However, fans did not get to hear the full-length studio album until Friday.
Horan has been building the anticipation for his album for over a year, releasing his first single “This Town” in Sept. 2016. “This Town” and his third single titled “Too Much To Ask” foreshadowed the vibe of Flicker, but the second, “Slow Hands,” remains an anomaly. “Slow Hands” has the heaviest pop sound of the tracks on the album, but it also has the most personality.
Citing musical influences like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, Horan’s acoustic guitar-driven melodies on songs like the title track and “Seeing Blind” embody his easygoing persona. The slow backbeat on “Fire Away” and “You and Me” characterize much of the album, one that is essentially soft and easy to listen to.
For Flicker, Horan worked with producer Greg Kurstin and rejoined forces with Julian Bunetta, who produced much of One Direction’s work. Horan’s folk-pop genre may sound familiar to fans, as much of his contribution to One Direction was in this vein. At first listen, “On the Loose” and “Since We’re Alone” easily could have been One Direction songs.
Flicker is not necessarily cautious, but Horan is definitely not taking any risks. The majority of the album is soft ballads and is only broken up by a few upbeat tunes. Still, it seems as though he is working to develop his own sound. “Seeing Blind,” a duet with Maren Morris, who will be opening for him on his next tour in 2018, is evident of this and a highlight on the album.
The particularly Irish-sounding tune “On My Own” with lyrics like “I’ll drink ‘til it’s empty / Stay out ‘til it’s dead / I’ll wake up at midday / And marry my bed,” is a fun, carefree nod to Horan’s heritage and largely represents what his Irish brand meant in the context of One Direction. On his own, he is free to pursue his folksy, Irish sound, though he could have done more.
Flicker is not overwhelmingly impressive or particularly moving, but it’s a soothing composition with a few songs that are definitely worth a listen.