As the third fifth of One Direction to release his debut solo album, Niall Horan soars with the fully self-realized Flicker. On this album, Niall knows his strengths, strong instrumentation, nostalgic lyrics, and tender vocals, and plays them up. Like former bandmate Harry Styles, Flicker is almost completely solo, bar the exceptional Maren Morris collaboration, “Seeing Blind.”
The pre-singles, “This Town,” “Slow Hands,” and “Too Much To Ask,” fit perfectly with the album’s theme of young love and reminiscing on the past. Flicker is a mature and concise body of work that benefits from Niall’s confidence; nothing on this record sounds forced or unnatural, this was the album Niall Horan was born to make.
One of the brighter spots on the album, the rousing “The Tide” calls back to the light rock of James Bay while the similarly strong “Since We’re Alone” reminds the listener of pre-mainstream Ed Sheeran. There isn’t one bad song on Flicker, some are stronger than others but as a whole, Niall executed his solo debut beautifully.
With notes of country, blues, rock, and folk, Flicker blends all these genres together to create a strain of pop music that fits Niall like a glove. Some will compare him to Ed Sheeran or Shawn Mendes, but Niall’s music is less popularity-seeking than Ed’s and more mature than Shawn’s. Despite being the youngest member of One Direction, the Irishman seems to be the wisest thus far.
The album starts off with a bang; “On The Loose” sounds like The Police crossed with Fleetwood Mac and Maroon 5. The California rock influence is all over the record, and it works because Niall wears his influences on his sleeve without trying to be the “new version” of anyone. There are few clunky lyrics on Flicker, notably in the standout track “Paper Houses” and debut solo single, “This Town,” but ultimately, this was a very strong debut effort.
Key Tracks: “Paper Houses,” “Seeing Blind (with Maren Morris),” “On My Mind”