Review: Flicker by Niall Horan

Flicker by Niall HoranWhat luck, Niall. What luck. The third One Direction member to release a solo record ends up filling the middle-of-the-road niche that people will like, and seemingly forever, until it is replaced. Remember James Blunt? Flicker zags where Zayn Malik’s Mind of Mine or Harry Styles’ eponymous debut zigs: whereas they have the outwardly monumental task of proving themselves to be more than the manufactured pop stars they actually are, he just has to churn out serviceable, inoffensive songs. Now, the songs aren’t actually bad, and I didn’t come in expecting Niall to even attempt to break out of his 1D shell. I’ll admit to having gotten sleepy by the end, the result of a late night and the songs being the sort you hear in banks and cabs. If anything, they’re well-crafted, gentle guitar-driven pop songs, hitting the right spots at the right time. So, well, perfectly manufactured. (The closest you’ll perhaps have to “artistic integrity” is “Seeing Blind”, a collaboration with country up-and-comer Maren Morris, which could have been a statement of intent if they pursued it – although that would be odd.) But at least it doesn’t feel like a cynical cash-in. Can Niall do better? I honestly don’t know. Where can he go from here? Same answer. [NB]3/5

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