It seems like it was just yesterday that One Direction was created on the “X Factor.” The year was 2010.
Ten years later, though the band is on hiatus, each member has remained busy as they retreated back to their solo ways. Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne and Harry Styles have all had lucrative solo careers. Harry Styles just released a wildly popular LP, “Fine Line,” which received generally positive reviews from critics.
The most recent One Direction solo release was Niall Horan's studio album, "Heartbreak Weather," which debuted March 13.
Horan’s sophomore solo effort is one I did not particularly enjoy. Though he tried, he did not add anything to the musical landscape of pop rock.
This record is full of predictable pop ballads you would expect from any former member of One Direction. Compared to his peers like Justin Bieber, this record is better produced and has more standout tracks, but those are the lone exceptions.
Throughout the record, Horan relies on simple chords and guitar riff patterns to deliver a pop rock/folk sound. This makes the album a very pleasing and blissful listen.
Songs like “Bend the Rules” and “Still” are quite lovely with luscious instrumentation and production. “Still” is one of the best tracks on the album with its wonderful strings and a highlight of Horan’s vocal range and capabilities. This track uses the proper instruments and chord progression to make a beautiful track. It acts as a perfect closer to the album, both thematically and musically.
Though the record has beautiful tracks, they cannot save the album from mediocrity. Most of the tracks possess the same basic themes and music styles, which make it challenging to distinguish the difference between each song. Other than a few special tracks that caught my attention, the record was bland and repetitive.
Songs such as “Everywhere,” “No Judgement” and “Black And White” seem like tracks I can already find on the radio. There are not enough standout tracks to make this album an entertaining listen throughout.
“Nice To Meet Ya” has many rock elements to it and reminds me of Cage The Elephant. The song has a vibrant and uplifting drum beat that can make anyone move. Horan seemed to take the easy route and copied a typical modern rock song, and, therefore, left this track with high potential that is not met.
“Small Talk” is probably my favorite song on the record. This song has a hard-hitting, unexpected, funky chorus. The verse has ominous synth chords that lead up well to the loud chorus. Unfortunately, the song ends quickly, lacking any sort of outro or fleshed-out ending.
Another noteworthy track is “Arms Of A Stranger.” This track actually uses a different chord progression than the rest of the record, which is quite refreshing, since this track is deep into the album. The guitar work in the chorus has a sweet melody that drives the chorus forward, which is preceded by a driving eighth note hi-hat beat.
Though I will give credit to how pleasant some of these tracks are, I will not give this album a second listen. Horan has the capabilities to make some great music, but this record proves he just needs to take a few more risks and embellish more.
There is some good music on here that most people can enjoy to some degree, but it is safe. Again, I do not want to discredit the talent Horan obviously has as both a singer and songwriter.
This album is perfect for the background, whether that is in a grocery store or coffee shop. It is the textbook record to put on while you are trying to focus on schoolwork or doing chores. Unfortunately, that is all this album is good for.