Our fave Irish pop star has returned with his long-anticipated third studio album The Show and it’s safe to say we are screaming, crying, and forever grateful for new Niall music.
Aside from his talent and his astonishingly successful career thus far, over the years, cheeky Niall has been known for his love of golf, Irish charm, finger guns, cardigans, and iconic friendships with his 1D bandmates and fellow authentic stars like Lewis Capaldi.
Alongside new music and upcoming tour prep, Niall recently completed his first season judging (and was crowned the winning coach of) The Voice U.S. (S23). A full-circle moment, the singer-songwriter has acknowledged how he has enjoyed giving back to upcoming artists in this environment, considering the role that X-Factor U.K. played in launching his and band One Direction’s stardom.
Niall often reflects on his albums as bodies of work, saying that each of his albums this far have “just been a natural progression from one to the next”, while acknowledging that his “outlook on things and just general growth is always going to affect your music”. “When I first wrote my first album, I was probably 22 and I’m heading into 30 now. Things change, interests change, outlooks change.”
To celebrate Niall’s latest body of work, let’s reflect on all the incredible eras of his discography so far!
THE 1D DAYS
Five boys, five albums, six years, over 300 international tour dates, and a 18-month (94-month*) hiatus. It’s impossible to reflect on Niall’s skyrocketing career without mentioning arguably the most iconic band of recent decades – One Direction.
Niall first auditioned for X-Factor in 2010, singing Ne-Yo’s ‘So Sick’ at aged 16, and was put into the group with fellow band members in order to stay in the competition. From the very beginning, Niall knew he could “sell out arenas”, and it was his charisma and confidence that caught everyone’s eye from the beginning. The band’s success catapulted Niall’s artist development vocally, musically, and performance wise. He achieved his wildest dreams early on by selling out venues like Madison Square Garden in under 10 minutes on their first headline tour alone, with the band going on to play multiple sold-out Wembley shows to a total of over 230,000 people in 2014.
Niall was a huge contributor writing (and of course singing) on tunes like ‘Story of My Life’, ‘Don’t Forget Where You Belong’ and ‘Temporary Fix’, while taking the band’s sound in new directions with ‘Never Enough’ and ‘Wolves’. On all these tracks we can deffo look back and see where Niall’s personal artist growth was weaving into these sound evolutions!
To no surprise, Niall’s first album as a solo artist in 2017 debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Chart in the U.S. and Ireland. Flicker offers a smooth listening experience of folky, acoustic pop inspired by The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac and strikes a balance between memorable hooks and heartfelt themes which laid the ground for the blossoming of Niall’s personal sound.
This album sonically feels like a natural progression from the vibes of Made in the A.M., while feeling very authentic to Niall and offering something fresh for fans and new listeners alike.
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Flicker’s first two singles, in particular, showcased Niall’s solo musical duality from the jump. ‘This Town’ and ‘Slow Hands’ demonstrate his ability to weave intimate and palpable imagery of the lingering nostalgia of hometown love, to the catchy, chart-topping, sultry track that honours the albums acoustic elements while offering a reinvention of what listeners might have expected from him vocally.
The Instrumentation is super important on this album, with Niall even releasing an entire special live edition of the album featuring the RTE Concert Orchestra, which amplified the magic of Flicker’s integral strings and acoustics swell into even more of an impressive escape.
Our fave underrated track: ‘The Tide’
Our favourite lyric: “She’ll dance in the dark, a real work of art / Her eyes could burn down the room” – ‘On The Loose’
A rare highlight of 2020: Niall blessed us with his second studio album Heartbreak Weather!
An era that was unfortunately cut short due to lockdowns and postponed tour dates (💔), Heartbreak Weather still debuted at the top of the Irish and U.K. charts. This time around Niall mixed his acoustic roots with some more experimental elements, like some synth and electric instrumentation. The seamless and glossy blend of these styles mean Heartbreak Weather is a body of work that proves just how atmospheric, expansive, and emotive Niall’s sound truly is.
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Single ‘Nice To Meet Ya’ unveiled another new side to Niall, with deeper vocals than ever showcased before, rumoured to be influenced by the alt-rock style of bands like the Arctic Monkeys. This sits promisingly multi-faceted alongside the peaceful reflections of ‘San Francisco’ or ‘Still’, and the titular track, ‘Heartbreak Weather,’ which ironically has summer written all over it. All in all, this album takes you through the emotional motions of a breakup – it’s the perfect storm of ballads, romance, flirtation and self-reflection.
Fave underrated track: ‘Everywhere’
Our fave lyric: “Cause on paper, you don’t break them / But it hurts so bad the way you bend the rules.” – ‘Bend The Rules’
Niall’s latest album, The Show pushes his established pop-folk roots to further uncharted sonic horizons, while still remaining incredibly and authentically Niall. The singer-songwriter has described the intimate record as his “most experiential album” yet. The lead single, ‘Heaven,’ is aptly named, with angelicly-layered backing vocals and a swelling symphony about a romance that changes not only this life, but the realms beyond.
The romantic inspiration for this album is palpable, with ‘You Could Start A Cult’ and ‘Must Be Love’ among the newly-released touching modern classics, quiet and catchy in their melodic confessions (everybody say “thank you Amelia!!”)
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Thematically, there are some wholesome nods to the debut-likes of ‘Fire Away’ (Flicker) with ‘Meltdown’, and the luminous imagery of dance floors on tracks like ‘The Show’ and ‘Never Grow Up,’ something that has been a common thread through all of Niall’s discography (‘This Town’, ‘Put a Little Love On Me’ and more).
The Show is Niall’s most sonically cohesive album yet, while still allowing for artistic growth and exploration. Niall has long nailed the musical blends of piano, guitar and strings, and lyrically, this body of work feels the most honest and raw of his solo career thus far.
Fave underrated track: ‘Science’ 🥲
Our fave lyric: “I’m having revelations / You dance across the floor / Beyond infatuation / How I obsessively adore you” – ‘Heaven’
Niall’s trilogy of work thus far is a radiant collection of authentic growth and style evolution from the same charming and cheeky Irish lad we’ve known and loved since day one!
Niall is bringing The Show to NZ in April 2024, don’t miss his iconic return to the stage!