We all knew where Niall Horan was going to land for his solo career. Zayn has got R&B sewn up, Liam Payne‘s doing (what he thinks is) pop, Louis Tomlinson is off on his dance flex, and Harry Styles is happily repackaging his dad’s record collection for us.
So it makes sense that Flicker leaves Niall Horan attempting to go full Ed Sheeran, but somehow ending up even worse. The thing is, and we don’t mean to be overly harsh here, Horan fails on so many fronts: the songwriting is littered with pathetic epithets (This Town a big old perp here, Slow Hands a close second), he has the blandest vocal in all the land, the production is painfully predictable, and even the best feature he could manage is an unheard-of-over-here Maren Morris. Authenticity, or no one bigger returning his calls? You decide.
Funnily enough given One Direction‘s past, Niall Horan has released the exact sort of album you’d expect from an X Factor contestant. And it’s exhausting in its banality, Too Much To Ask starting off a domino effect of horrendous MOR nonsense that honestly feel like squeezing out something painful over the loo. You think it’s all done, but nope here’s another turd (Paper Houses). And another little one (Since We’re Alone). And another (repeat with every track on the album).
Niall Horan himself just doesn’t seem interested in what he’s peddling. He doesn’t have the range to communicate heartbreak, instead very much betraying the sound of someone who’s trying to write their autobiography when they’re 15. If Horan is content with this then fair enough, but the way he presents himself on the cover sort of sums up his debut: here I am, plonked in front of you, making minimal effort and hoping my eyes pierce your soul because ain’t nothing else going to do that for you on Flicker. And, to be perfectly honest, we’d rather just spend an hour listening to a flickering tube-light instead.