Singer-songwriter and One Direction member Niall Horan has followed the same path as ex-bandmates Zayn Malik and Harry Styles, releasing his debut solo album Flicker.
The album opens and closes with simple, summery pop songs On The Loose and You and Me respectively. Both include clean electric guitars that mirror The Script, while the catchy melodies are reminiscent of 1D. The tracks in between take a different turn though.
This Town is a stripped-back acoustic and piano song, as Horan sings “Yesterday I thought I saw your shadow running round” in the style of Amy Macdonald, as soft strings simmer in the background. Too Much To Ask is similar, but more bombastic, delivering the boyzone-esque chorus, “My heart is open, you walked right in”. The palm-muted country-tinged Seeing Blind features American country singer-songwriter Maren Morris, while Slow Hands has more grit and groove, which is diminished by the heavily clipped vocals in the verses, making the song feel disjointed.
The second half is far more interesting. Album highlight Paper Houses sounds like a dreamy and atmospheric Ben Howard; the fingerstyle folk of the title track channel Laura Marling; and Fire Away provides a warm contrast to the chill summer aesthetic that runs throughout. The bouncy Since We’re Alone merges Fleetwood Mac-style guitars with vocals like Ronan Keating, creating a harmless, nostalgic song.
While Flicker sounds a little forced at first, but as the album progresses, Horan grows into his own, without losing any of that One Direction shine.