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Louis Tomlinson Climbs the ‘Walls’ of the Pop Landscape

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GWU chapter.

Louis Tomlinson released his first solo debut, Walls, earlier this year and he became the fifth and final One Direction member to do so. Twelve entire songs are dedicated to Tomlinson’s signature raspy voice singing British pop with heavy guitar backdrops. The album comes after his mother and sister’s untimely deaths, and there is no doubt that the album pays homage to them both. It is vulnerable and emotional but unlike his counterparts, he doesn’t let it break his heart. Tomlinson has found his voice and it is decidedly louder than it was from when he was in One Direction. Channeling his inner Oasis or even Coldplay at times, he tackles the rollercoaster of life in his own way. The music is reminiscent of less popular One Direction songs only attentive fans will pick up on: think “Fools Gold,” among others. Grief, heartbreak, love, and rebirth are the staples of any good album and Louis touches base on all of them.

“Always You” is the perfect example of an enjoyable beat and it almost forces you to move to the rhythm. The song is the dawning of a realization of love, regret, and an apology something he also sings on the title track, “Walls.” The track is very coffee shop-esque with a quiet piano in the beginning and the end. It touches on being steadfast in love even with time apart (a nod to his current longtime girlfriend, Eleanor Calder) and each chorus gets louder with the music, signaling determination in the relationship. “Defenceless” is mellow (as is “Fearless”) and one can’t help but wonder if the music was sampled from “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by One Direction. The track is one of the best on the album both in terms of the depth of the songwriting and the music, with a beat drop that will easily become a fan favorite at concerts. “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” tricks you with an acoustic beginning that transitions into a very upbeat Britpop song. Hope seems to be a recurring theme in the album, one that Tomlinson manages to do a different way every time, especially in indie style “Only the Brave.” 

“Two of Us,” a lead single, is penned beautifully for his mother, and the song takes on another tragic twist, with his sister passing away not even a week later after its’ release. “Too Young” relies entirely on acoustics and ‘darling’ rolls off his tongue sweetly as he self reflects love and naivety, and it is the same love he reassures in “Perfect Now,” a song that could be an extension of the famed One Direction song “Little Things.” However, the first track “Kill My Mind” isn’t particularly appealing because it is too mainstream, even for his tried and tested cookie-cutter pop. 

Out of all the solo debuts, Tomlinson’s sounds the most like One Direction, which is no surprise considering his stroke of genius was behind many of the band’s chart-toppers. The songs are catchy and he hasn’t exactly stepped away from the pop rule book. He’s played it safe, even if it does fall flat – something even he admits on “We Made It,” “Singing something poppy on the same four chords.” His voice is the highlight of the album, sounding folksy and nostalgic. The musical direction and songwriting do become redundant here and there (such as on “Habit” which had the potential to be a brilliant soft Britpop song), but it is clear that this is Tomlinson telling his story in a way that is cheekily more relatable than Harry Styles. His breezy bops are fresh air in today’s musical landscape. Tommo delivered a fairly celebratory debut album. 


Top 5: Always You, Too Young, Don’t Let It Break Your Heart, Defenceless, Two of Us.

Hiba is a sophomore, majoring in Political Communication and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. At GW, she is on the board of the Pakistani Student Association and takes a lot of pride in her heritage. She currently works at the United State of Women and is a content writer for the Anar Collective. She loves talking about South Asian politics and pop culture. She aspires to be a journalist or foreign policy analyst in the future and in her spare time, she writes poetry and watches Christian Bale movies.
Isabella grew up in Boston and is currently a student at The George Washington University studying International Business and Chinese. Her dream job is working as a journalist in New York, and she hopes to travel all over the world and study abroad in Shanghai. You can find her taking walks with her three Labradoodles or doing yoga with friends.