By Allegra Solomon, Contributor
[Neon Haze; 2017]
Key Tracks: “On the Loose”, “Slow Hands”, “Fire Away”
The Irish member of ex-boyband One Direction has stepped out of the shadows and into his own spotlight. Flicker is the culmination of all of Niall Horan’s artistic endeavors since One Direction’s breakup back in early 2016. Finally, after years of being relegated to the shortest solos in songs, Horan gets to take on what he wanted all along—a solo career. He channels his love for folk and country music on this album, finally settling into his own sound and taking the good and bad that comes with that.
“On The Loose” was first debuted at a music festival this summer, which caused low-quality videos of the song to circulate and cause hype. Horan was the only One Direction member to play an instrument on stage, and in this song, you finally get to see what he can do. Though simple and fairly repetitive, the song’s catchy hook makes up for any downfalls. Horan also pushes his voice dynamically midway through the song, giving us more from him than we ever saw in a One Direction song.
“We should take this back to my place / That’s what she said right to my face.” Right from the start, we see Horan taking full lyrical advantage of his new found freedom. The single “Slow Hands” was released in May of this year and is the best representation of the album as a whole. The county/pop mixture works effectively in this song, and the song was well received by people who traditionally listen outside of those genres. The ear-catching guitar riff and Horan’s distorted voice mesh perfectly for an album hit.
“Fire Away” is like no other song on the album. The stripped down ballad is that soothing rainy day song you’ve been looking for. Technically, the song is beautifully constructed—it’s dynamic and different. Even though it follows the traditional verse, chorus, hook outline, it drawls you in with its harmonies, allowing you to get lost in the middle of it. With “Fire Away” and “This Town” as proof, slow, acoustic songs are definitely his niche.
Though not the best post-One Direction solo project we’ve seen, it surely is not the worst. On this debut album, the Mullingar native is finding his sound, having fun while doing it and gracing us with a few good songs in the process.