In his vulnerable sophomore album Heartbreak Weather, Niall Horan paints a story of love in all its stages through stadium pop powerhouses to slow and sultry ballads; proving that in this post-1D apocalyptic world, he’s going to be the one to fill the gaping hole the band left.
We begin the narrative with the 80s-eqsue self-titled track, a bumbling hit of colour and sparkles that contradict its lyrics of feeling lonely. In his trademark way, Niall is making a happy hit out of a period of sadness. ‘Heartbreak Weather’ touches on the feeling of being lost until you’ve found someone new, and it’s the perfect start to the story that’s about to unfold.
The explosive ‘Black And White’ is next, its infectious melody describing a wedding fantasy. It’s then brilliantly followed by ‘Dear Patience,’ a confessional track that finds Niall telling himself to slow down and not rush into love. It’s at this point we realise the album is perfectly calculated, with each new track depicting a new chapter and feeling of love.
‘Bend The Rules’ sees Niall channelling his Bruce Springsteen, his voice darker and more gravelly than we’ve ever heard while spinning the concept of a lover lying about where they are and who they’re with. Niall’s confident, his voice showing new ranges and furthermore proving his talent. He’s grown up, and if you didn’t have the proof already, here it is.
The next two tracks ‘Small Talk’ and lead single ‘Nice To Meet Ya’ follow the same theme of flirty sexual desire. They roll with punchy thunder and make even your bones move. But just as the party is getting started, Niall hits you with the single ‘Put A Little Love On Me’; the heartbreaking piano ballad that reminds us that the woes of love mean high highs and incredibly low lows.
The highlight of the album is the familiar sound it brings, helpfully provided by the same producers that worked with One Direction. While Niall is putting his own spin on things, there’s no denying the nostalgic pop beats. ‘Everywhere’ sounds like it’s walked right off the B-side of FOUR while ‘Cross My Mind’ could easily snuggle into Made in the A.M. Maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe it’s Niall giving a nod to his previous self. Heartbreak can come in many different forms.
The end of the story brings somewhat of an unhappy ending. There is no upside to heartbreak, sometimes you just have to sit and feel the pain. ‘San Francisco’ is based on the beginning of an ex-relationship and wanting to return to it, its soft melody creating a feeling of deep longing and desire. And then we’re falling into ‘Still,’ a beautiful, raw almost-acoustic that sees Niall at his lowest. The heartbreaking line “if honesty means telling you the truth, well I’m still in love with you” sets the tone of the emotional track, with Niall opening up and trying to fix the cracks in his heart.
And with the final moments of ‘Still’, we feel the true impact of a broken love. Almost as if it’s our own personal story. But all we have to do is hit replay to feel the exciting highs again. Heartbreak Weather is a fantastic pop record and an even better showcase of the extreme talent Niall has as a solo artist. But if it’s proven anything, it’s that the sound of One Direction will always live on. After all, you never really forget your first love.
Listen to Heartbreak Weather and more Niall Horan tracks below!