Niall Horan: Flicker


Niall Horan has always been overlooked. In 1D, he wrote some songs but was never given enough credit for them, he was barely given any solos in the band's early days and, despite being the second most followed member on Twitter for a while, his talents were never truly given the recognition they deserve. He was the Irish one, the happy go lucky chap who made people smile and had a sweet voice - nothing wrong with that, of course, but it meant that Niall's true potential, vocals and songwriting abilities were cast aside.
However, thanks to Niall's recent solo career, which is going from strength to strength on the daily, all eyes are now on him, with the world able to fully marvel in the beauty of everything that Niall Horan is.

With me being a devout One Direction fan for what feels like my entire life, naturally, I've followed their solo careers just as religiously as I followed them as a four piece. Okay, maybe 1D's solo careers do mean I have to buy albums, concert tickets and merchandise FOUR times over, making me even poorer, however, to see them fulfilling their dreams all over again, this time as soloists, is incredibly exciting.

Niall's album comes as the second 1D solo album after Harry released his self-titled record back in May, which took the world by storm after a killer promo season and huge build up.
Niall's debut album took a different route, with him actually playing the entire record live for fans at exclusive shows, The Flicker Sessions, weeks before release day. This gave the world a sneak peek and chance to become familiar with the sound before the studio versions of each song were available. I tried not to spoil anything for myself as I wanted to get fully immersed in the listening experience and leave some surprises when I did listen to the album for the first time because, let's be honest, is there really a better feeling than the one you get when listening to new music by your favourite artists for the first time?
I did listen to some snippets, though - the 1D fan in me couldn't help it - when little Nialler was embarking on a world tour, I had to follow the shows and Tweet him five thousand times to tell him how proud I was of him. What I did hear from Niall's concerts excited me for the release of his album because each song sounded beautiful and, let me tell you, now the album is out and I already know each track like the back of my hand, I am head over heels in love.

The title is Flicker, named after Niall's favourite song on the album, and the record truly is 46 minutes of marvellous musical magic. Each song is a work of art within itself and, if it were possible for me to hang each on a wall in a gallery, I wouldn't hesitate to do so. It's personal, it's raw, it's real, most importantly, it's Niall. In each note I feel such a strong sense of him and feel as though he's truly opened his heart, allowing himself to be completely vulnerable as he puts previously hidden parts of his life on display for all to judge. He opens up about heartbreak, romance, his deepest emotions and tells stories of  the things he's experienced whilst growing up in a crazy world. But, whatever the subject, each track has been penned perfectly, each lyric has been carefully selected, each note on each instrument has been handpicked and each note sung is nothing short of award worthy. When I listen to Flicker, I hear Niall's influences and catch a glimpse of the artist he grew up listening to but, more than that, I hear Niall. I hear he has found his sound and he's made something that he loves. I believe every word he sings and I feel every feeling that he does, whether that's happy, sad, angry or spontaneous. As I listen to the album from start to finish, I feel as though I am just drowning in music, but in the best possible way. His songs completely take over my being, leaving me practically speechless at the end of each one because, no word of a lie, they really are that good.
"But you're a One Direction fan, of course you're going to say every song is amazing!" Perhaps that is true, perhaps listening to non-stop 1D for the past seven years has caused my music taste to be moulded around how they sound...but I know good music when I hear it because, even if I am a 1D fan, I'm not incapable of falling in love with music in the ways that everyone else can.

To say I love the lyrics on Flicker would be an understatement, although, I can't think of another word to use, one just simply has to listen to the tracks themselves and appreciate the beauty of every line in their own way. Every verse, every chorus...it's poetry that Shakespeare would take his hat off to. Every track has been so impeccably crafted, nothing just thrown in for the sake of saying it - every line tells a story and is guaranteed to make any listener of any age feel SOMETHING.

Flicker is an album for anyone who just genuinely loves music. Forget One Direction for now, forget their pop sound and everything about them you may claim to hate because this album isn't a 1D album and Niall deserves a fair chance at success. Listen to it with an open mind and open heart as I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised. This isn't just a record for teenage girls, whoever you are, wherever in the world you are, there's a song on Flicker to fulfil your musical needs. There'll be something for you to relate to, something for you to boogie to and something for you to cry to. Flicker doesn't discriminate, it's just a seriously bloody GOOD album made by someone who, if you were to cut them in half, would have talent written all the way through them.

Flicker has brought both light and hope into my life and it fills me with such pride whenever I listen to it. To think it was made by the same blonde Irish guy who auditioned for The X Factor with So Sick back in 2010 is mind blowing as it's a true representation of how much he has grown. I can hear such maturity and experience in his lyrics, despite him still being so young, and I can hear such a deep passion for art and music. It's as if I can hear the success when I listen to it, I can hear the crowds cheering at his sold out shows, I can hear radio hosts announcing that he's number one in the charts. This album is bound to make the world wake up and appreciate what they've been denying themselves of for the past seven years, at least, I hope it will. Niall has stories to tell and his ability to transform them into beautiful songs is undeniable. His voice is so unique it's almost unbelievable how hauntingly stunning it is. Every inch of this album will leave you breathless because the composition is faultless.

Allow me to talk you through each track, explaining which I love most and why. I'm no music critic, nor do I aspire to be one, just a fan who has is so besotted with what has been created by someone she's spent her life adoring and admiring, that she wants to scream about her obsession with it from the rooftops. This album makes me feel indescribably warm and fuzzy inside, what with it's emotional melodies, country and folk-rock sounds and just WOW THEY ARE SO GOOD I WANT TO BATHE IN THEM lyrics - and I hope it makes you feel the same way.

1) On The Loose
Favourite lyric: She'll run with your mind and pull you in tight then trade you in for something new
If the song was a colour it would be: yellow
How the song makes me feel: ready to dance
On The Loose, the song Niall has been teasing fans with for months, playing it live before his album was even announced, without releasing the studio version. Well, now she's finally here, she hasn't disappointed. On The Loose is the PERFECT opening track for Flicker. It sets the mood and has an undeniably catchy tune which you just can't help but sway your hips to. It's bound to be a firm favourite of anyone who listens to the album because who doesn't love a slow jam? After listening to this track, you're convinced things can't get any better, even though this is only the first track but, let me tell you, this is only the beginning...

2) This Town
Favourite lyric: Butterflies, they come alive when I'm next to you
If the song was a colour it would be: vanilla
How the song makes me feel: chilled
This was Niall's first solo single and it's crazy that it was released over a year ago. He's come so far and achieved so much since then but one thing has remained a constant, everyone loves This Town. This Town is officially the most adorable song ever made - I've decided. It's so pure and sweet, such a heartwarming track about being in love. It's stunning and has the most enchanting lyrics.

3) Seeing Blind (featuring Maren Morris)
Favourite lyric: My heart was always on the run but you make lovin' fun
If the song was a colour it would be: lime green
How the song makes me feel: happy
This is a Flicker favourite of mine, plus, I am a sucker for a good male/female duet. Niall and Maren's voices complement one another perfectly, creating a gorgeous country track with a feel-good beat. It tells a heartwarming story of infatuation and being so captivated by someone, you can't quite believe that they are real.

4) Slow Hands
Favourite lyric: Like sweat dripping down our dirty laundry
If the song was a colour it would be: burnt orange
How the song makes me feel: just in a really GOOD mood
Slow Hands, Niall's second single, was the song of the Summer and fast worked it's way up to one of the songs of the year, topping the charts worldwide. It's one of my favourite solo 1D tracks to date and the success it has had suggests I'm not alone in being obsessed with it. Slow Hands is impossible to tire of. Even if you've listened to it a million times, as soon as you hear those drums and the distinctive "WOO" when the song begins, you instinctively start dancing. It's a genius track with an infectious sound - basically just the perfect pop tune for any occasion.

5) Too Much To Ask
Favourite lyric: My shadow's dancing without you for the first time
If the song was a colour it would be: navy blue
How the song makes me feel: heartbroken
Too Much To Ask, also known as Niall's third solo single, is a heart breaker, sure to make even the most single people on Earth shed a tear. Niall's longing for his special someone and the pain he feels following the end of a relationship is overwhelming and makes you want to give him a hug, even though you know there's only one person in world he's waiting to walk through the door. This song beautifully describes a deep longing for someone and Niall's vocals give severe goosebumps.

6) Paper Houses
Favourite lyric: Why do we climb to fall so far?
If the song was a colour it would be: white
How the song makes me feel: as though I want to give Niall a hug
The unique title of this song intrigued me from the moment I saw it on the track list and I was extremely impressed when I heard it. It's another sad song which you'll probably need a few moments to recover from once it's finished, but, even though it's heartbreaking, it's a stunning song. It's a simple song, nothing crazy going on, no intense beats or wild vocals, just Niall and a beautiful guitar, which makes for the perfect love song. It's a song which you can just listen to whilst lying in bed before falling asleep and it'll help you relax.

7) Since We're Alone
Favourite lyric: Like the rain on a sunny day, there's a shadow behind your face
If the song was a colour it would be: baby blue
How the song makes me feel: empowered
Another incredible song with truly genius lyrics about encouraging someone to open up their heart to you, despite them being so reluctant to do so. Niall's voice is so comforting and kind of just makes you feel like there's beauty in vulnerability and it's okay to talk about things. Also, the chorus is undoubtedly catchy, definitely one that will be stuck in your head all day.

8) Flicker
Favourite lyric: Still a flicker of hope that you first gave to me that I wanna keep
If the song was a colour it would be: black
How the song makes me feel: VERY. VERY. VERY. SAD.
Here we are, the famous Flicker, the track Niall thought was so good it just had to be the album title too...I can certainly see why he made that decision. Flicker is...well, it's everything. Listening to it makes me feel as though someone has smashed my heart into smithereens with a sledgehammer because of how harrowing it is. Niall's pure desperation for his love, his desperation for them to stay is painful, with the line "Please don't leave" being repeated throughout and causing me to cry every time. Despite being a sad song, it's a brilliant one and definitely one of the best on the album. It's a song that Niall should be proud of as it's by far the most vulnerable he's ever been. Putting himself out there, so exposed, takes courage and I know I couldn't put my deepest feelings on record like that. Give this song a Grammy...and also tell me WHO hurt Niall!

9) Fire Away
Favourite lyric: There's a reservoir in your eyes that you've been holding back a long time
If the song was a colour it would be: magenta
How the song makes me feel: sleepy
The first verse of Fire Away is so impeccably written, I fell in love with this folk-rock track immediately. It's another calming track encouraging people to push past their fears to show the world who they are. Lyrics such as, "Darling you don't have to hold it, you don't have to be afraid" are comforting and heartwarming - I can imagine this is the perfect song to listen to through headphones during a long car journey late at night.

10) You And Me
Favourite lyric: I got a young heart and it's wild and free
If the song was a colour it would be: gold
How the song makes me feel: peaceful
You And Me is the perfect love song and Niall's romantic urgency is so touching. In this tune, he bares his soul to just tell someone how he feels about them, that they're his everything and they're the only thing they think about. You And Me is simply another piece in the puzzle of the masterpiece that is Flicker, truly flawless.

11) On My Own
Favourite lyric: I'll wake up at midday and marry my bed
If the song was a colour it would be: turquoise
How the song makes me feel: unsociable
On My Own is, by far, the song I relate to most on the album. Niall sings about his love for his own company and how much he enjoys being by himself sometimes, with lyrics like,"if you ask me around and I should decline, don't take it to heart. Your company's fine but I get on better with mine," this is pretty much me in a song. It's upbeat and fun, making it the perfect track for a dance party for one when home alone.

12) Mirrors
Favourite lyric: I hope you know you're beautiful, have you ever been told?
If the song was a colour it would be: silver
How the song makes me feel: comforted
Mirrors is another relatable track, surely, for many, as it tells the story of a shy girl, going through a hard time and wishing someone could offer her a helping hand. It's so moving but has an anthemic chorus which I can imagine will sound amazing when performed in arenas. Niall's voice, as always, sounds brilliant.

12) The Tide
Favourite lyric: I just want a safe place to hide us away
If the song was a colour it would be: ocean blue
How the song makes me feel: ready for a road-trip
Here we have it, the final song on Flicker - what a listening experience it's been but one of the best has been saved until last. I couldn't have picked a better song to close the album than The Tide. It starts off slow but builds into a huge chorus with a infectious drums. The song sings about wanting to hold onto a relationship with someone and not wanting anything to ruin what you have. To me, this song has a kind of 'inspirational' beat and, when it's finished, I feel as though I can go out and conquer the world. It's a great driving song!

So, that's Flicker, a truly wonderful creation that I know I'll still be listening to when I'm old and grey, made by one of my favourite people in the world. Congratulations, Niall, on such a fantastic album, although I never doubted your ability to produce something that would put everyone else in the music industry to shame. Here's to the Flicker World Tour 2018!

My favourite songs are Flicker, Seeing Blind, Mirrors and On My Own, what are yours?

Love, Emily :) xx

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