Album Review: Flicker by Niall Horan

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Niall Horan released his debut album "Flicker" on October 20th, 2017. Horan's 70's folk-rock inspired album is incredibly honest and has some serious Fleetwood Mac vibes. “Flicker” as a whole is a very easy listen because it is just as chilled out as Horan is himself. Niall says in his documentary on Apple Music, that he wants when people listen to the album, for them to interpret it in their own way. This album was a big step for Horan, most people know him from his five years of rocking in One Direction. Niall said he always knew what this album would sound like, he likes seeing something he worked so hard on coming together. A producer on the album, Jacquire King, said “It’s been a confidence boost in terms of identifying himself as a stand alone artist. You can see the feeling of him coming into his own.” John Ryan, a songwriter who Niall worked with on the album and on One Direction’s albums, says that Niall’s sound is honesty, his sound is his stories, and it’s his life. Ryan says there is a charm to Niall’s storytelling with his guitar. Niall’s storytelling ability and his raw talent are the core of this album.

Here is a track by track review of Niall Horan’s “Flicker”.

On The Loose

"She'll dance in the dark. A real work of art. Her eyes could burn down the room. So get out while you can. You don't understand, she doesn't know how to lose"

Niall opens the album with this very 70's sounding tune. Horan originally debuted the song this summer in San Diego at Channel 93.3’s Summer Kick Off Concert. On The Loose is most certainly stand out track on this album. It will fun to dance along to at his live shows.

Preferred venue to jam to this tune: Front row at Niall’s Flicker Sessions would be ideal, but in the car with the windows down driving around at night with your best friends is good too.

This Town

“If the whole world was watching I’d still dance with you.”

Horan kicked off his solo career with his sweet love song, This Town. This was the first bit of Niall as a solo artist that fans heard. This Town further proved what a great song writer Niall is and always has been. Horan wrote the song with Jamie Scott, who he worked with on several One Direction albums. The pair wrote This Town on their first day back in the studio after One Direction hiatus started and Niall took a well deserved break.

What kind of movie would this song be? A Nichols Sparks movie

Seeing Blind (featuring Marren Morris)

“I was young, my heart was always on the run. But you make lovin' fun, I never knew it could be. Hey, I see you from a different point of view. I feel it's too good to be true, I found my missing piece.”

Seeing Blind has a little country twang to it which is fitting with country music star, Marren Morris, collaborated with Horan on the track. Horan was honored to work with the Grammy award winning artist. The pair had never met when Niall emailed her about sining on the song. Horan said asking Morris was a “no brainer”. After hearing the song with it’s country feel, Marren was in. “She brought the song to life and sounds amazing on it,” Horan says.

Slow Hands

"Slow, slow hands. Like sweat dripping down our dirty laundry. No, no chance,

that I'm leaving here without you on me. I, I know, yeah, I already know that there ain't no stopping.Your plans and those slow hands."

We all know it and love it. Niall's second solo song released back in May and we've been jamming to it ever since. Slow Hands charted very well and is a favorite amongst fans. This song solidified Horan as a strong solo artist, Horan says in his documentary that he wanted to show that he could be diverse. Niall wanted to make a song that was funk rocky. John Ryan, a co writer on the song, said that Slow Hand is Horan’s best work.   

What is one word to sum up this song? Sexy.

Too Muck To Ask

“My shadow's dancing without you for the first time. My heart is hoping you'll walk right in tonight. Tell me there are things that you regret, 'cause if I'm being honest I ain't over you yet. It's all I'm asking, is it too much to ask?”

Niall wrote Too Much To Ask same week as his track, This Town. Horan wrote this tune with the same concept as the song, Flicker, like what happened afterwards. In the terms of the concept, Niall says it’s like your holding on to something that is not there anymore.

Fun Fact about the music video: Niall said in his documentary, On The Record: Niall Horan- Flicker, that he has found himself being more creative this time around like with the music videos. Niall wrote the concept for the music video Too Much To Ask. “I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like,” Horan said. “I think I’ve made an aesthetic for me as an artistic.” Also, Niall’s bandmates for his tour starred alongside him in the music video.

Paper Houses

“And our paper houses reach the stars, ’til we break and scatter worlds apart. Yeah, I paid the price and own the scars. Why do we climb and fall so far?”

Lyrically this song is a stand out ballad for this album. The instrumentals on Paper Houses are simple but incredibly strong. Niall has your back during your break ups with this sorrowful song.

Preferred venue to listen to this song after a break up: In your bed with pjs, tissues, and your favorite snack.

Since We’re Alone

“Since we're alone, yeah, you can show me your heart. If you put it all in my hand, no, I swear, no, I won't break it apart. Since we're alone, show me all that you are. And if you get lost in the light, it's okay, I can see in the dark.”

Since We’re Alone is another 70’s funky rock tune on the album. It is a fun song and will be highly anticipated in Horan’s live show. Since We Are Alone is the kind of song that when it comes on in the car you just cannot help but dance a little.

What would be one word to sum up this song? Groovy.

Flicker

“When you feel your love's been taken. When you know there's something missing.

In the dark, we're barely hangin' on. Then you rest your head upon my chest and you feel like there ain't nothing left. I'm afraid that what we had is gone.”

Flicker is the title track for Horan’s album and also happens to be his favorite. Niall says in his documentary On The Record: Niall Horan- Flicker, “I had been playing around with the concept of it for awhile now. Just the song wasn’t good enough, what was coming out of it. One I was just sitting at home, had my phone on me and I was just sitting there and had the guitar in me hand like I always do. I pressed voice record and just started playing that riff at the start of the song. And it just happened, I don’t know where.” The song took two or three takes, Jacquire King said there was so much emotion, that it gave them a goosebump feeling, and that it was special.   

How does this song make a fan feel? So incredibly proud of their boy, Niall.    

Fire Away

“Darling, you don't have to hold it, you don't have to be afraid. You can go ahead and unload it, 'cause you know it'll be okay….fire away.”

Horan writes incredibly strong ballads that are filled with raw emotion and a story. This song is a good example of Niall’s honest song writing that John Ryan talked about in the documentary. Fire Away is a easy song to listen to as it is incredibly chilled, simple, and beautiful.

Fun Fact! Fire Away was the last song that Niall wrote.     

You and Me

“I got a young heart and it's wild and free. I don't know where it starts but it ends with you and me. It's a hard road, as far as I can see. I don't where I'm going but I get back to you and me”

You and Me is prime example of Horan’s storytelling ability that John Ryan speaks about in the documentary on Apple Music. The song has Niall’s signature chillness and has John Mayer vibes at it’s core.

If this song were a drink? Hot Chocolate.    

On My Own

“I'll drink 'til it's empty, stay out 'til it's dead, I'll wake up at midday and marry my bed. I'll kiss all the women, get punched in the head. You could offer the world, baby, but I'll take this instead.”

You can hear Niall’s Irish roots in On My Own. This song sounds like a tune you would hear at an open mic night at an Irish pub. It is a fun song and a strong track on the album. On My Own will be great to hear live with Niall and his band.

What does this song make you want to do? Have a night out in Ireland with your mates.

Mirror

“She closed the door, she hides behind the face nobody knows.

She feels her skin touch the floor, she wants to fight. Her eyes are tired, nobody's on her side. She wants to feel like she did before.”

Mirror is an incredibly vulnerable and relatable song. It is full of raw emotion and tells a story that makes you feel connected to Niall. Lyrically and musically, the song is completely on point. Well done, Niall!   

What does this song make you want to do? Hug someone…preferably Niall!  

The Tide

“Oh no, get ready. I feel it coming, it's coming again. Don't give up, and don't let me 'cause I'm needing you to understand. When I go, all I ever seem to fear is that you're gonna find someone and slowly watch me disappear.”

The Tide is the closing track on the album and one of the three bonus tracks. It has a chill but upbeat vibe. The message of the song, or least one interpretation since Niall wants everyone to interpret it their own way, is that you fight for the person you want.

Writer’s opinion: It is a favorite of mine, a great tune to sing along to in the car with the windows down. I cannot wait to hear this one live!  

Jacquire King, a producer on “Flicker”, praised Horan in the documentary, “he has a great modern voice, he’s just a fantastic vocalist.” Niall’s album proves just that, “Flicker” showcases how strong of an artist he is. Don Henley from The Eagles, which happens to be on of Niall’s favorite bands, says he is looking forward to watching Niall grow. I think we can all agree with the legendary Don Henley on that and congratulations to Niall on his debut.   

 

About The Author

Hi!
I'm Katie Goodwin! I'm a senior at UA and I am majoring in journalism with a minor in creative writing. I'm from Hoover, AL but one day I hope to live in London, England. When I am not writing, I love to read, watch Netflix, travel, and go to One Direction concerts.