Review Summary: why...why...why
Let’s start by saying: I am a fan of the most recent self-titled record by Harry Styles. I gave the record a 4/5 on one of the websites that I use to rate all the music I listen to. I thought it was a powerful, emotional, and reflective record. Even though it wasn’t a really innovated project, it proved that he knows music. The 60’s and 70’s flair for all the songs, with more modern production, without going overboard, just added this great feel and layer of emotion and esthetic.
But, we aren’t here to review Harry Styles, we are here to review Naill Horan, another old One Direction member, who is getting into his solo career and to, probably try to, trump this Harry Styles project. Let’s get it out there now before anything, this solo record isn’t a very good project.
To start with, there is a huge lack of emotion. Not saying it’s necessarily his voice because it is actually pretty good, but all the production makes his voice sound so awkward and echo-ie song after song. His voice does go well with this pop-style country, folk, and top 40 instrumentals. But none of these instrumentals have any power or drive to keep you listening. They all bleed together and sound like each other. Then on top of both of those, some of the production choices just make me question what in the world was happening during the putting together of the songs. An example is the song “Slow Hands” the very beginning has these choppy edits that make his voice skip. It happens for the first minute and then it just cleans up. What were the producers even thinking of letting this get through? If it was on purpose, why, it just takes away any flow from the song. If it was by mistake, that is fine, humans are humans. But, you have to review the project before you let it go to the public. Also on songs like “Paper House” the volume of his voice and the instrumentals are way to inconsistent. Sometimes the instrumentals get louder and sometimes they get softer in his voice. It’s one thing to do this and not notice it, but it’s another when it's painfully obvious.
But, let’s just talk about the lyrics for a second because they are something. But first, lyrics don’t have to be everything. Artists like Brockhampton, Vince Staples, and Tyler the Creator show that you can still produce magnificent records, with dull lyrics. These lyrics, however, are just all the same. Track after track Niall just talks about someone he loves or his broken heart. It’s just so tiring to hear the same thing repeatedly.
With this said there are still songs that were well written. “Since We’re Alone” is actually a good instrumental with swingy guitar cords and jamming drums. With the best vocal performance by Niall. Sounds a bit too much like Maroon 5, but that can slide. The title track is one of the few ballads on the record that evokes some sort of emotion. The production on his voice is gone on this song and you can actually hear the emotion in his voice and heart.
Overall, this is a pretty lackluster and half-finished record with painfully similar instrumentals and lyrics, with some also pretty choppy and compressed production choices that make the record silly. There are some decent tracks though like “Since We’re Alone”, “Flicker”, and “Fire Away”. But the emotion on those songs is lost in the production of the other songs.