Ed Power reviews the second album from former One Direction star Niall Horan.
Post-boyband life can be tough if you aren’t the big heartthrob in the line-up. Harry Styles, the most charismatic member of One Direction, will be fine, no matter what it does.
But what about Niall, Zayn, Liam and erm… the other guy?
Horan, the token Irishman in the line-up, isn’t taking chances. His second post-One D album is piled high with the sort of slurpy ballads that turned his former group into the biggest force in pop.
One Direction fans will love it, which was presumably the idea.
That is in contrast to Styles who seems keen on leaving his former life as a spiky-haired heartthrob as far behind as possible.
No such affectations trouble Mullingar-born Horan, who is in upbeat fettle across a happy go lucky collection of mid-tempo break-up stompers.
He certainly can’t be accused of resting on his pop laurels.
His first LP, Flicker, was a grab-bag of whispery campfire dirges. Here by contrast, it’s all pop all the way. This is announced with early single ‘Nice to Meet Ya’.
The laws of pop tell us we should always be wary of a track with “Ya” in the lyrics. To his credit Horan carries off the tune’s swaggering splicing of guitars and play-list friendly beats.
There are lots big blowsy ballads too, presumably informed by his split from actress/ singer/ Transformers star Hailee Stenfield.
Piano-powered ‘Put A Little Love One Me’, in particular, is an opportunity for him to challenge his vocal limitations.
And he adds a spritz of soul on ‘Cross Your Mind’, which sounds like the work of an artist who has been spending quality time with George Michael’s Greatest Hits (and has Pharrell Williams on speed-dial).
No wheels are reinvented. Nor does Styles need to fret about his status as One Direction Alpha Dog. However as a steady as she goes adjunct to Flicker, Heartbreak Weather ticks the boxes.
It doesn’t cause a storm. But it will leave One Direction diehards slightly shaken and stirred.