Amidst the chaos of the world — art like music, literature, and television provide a sense of comfort. Lucky for us, Niall Horan released his sophomore album ‘Heartbreak Weather’ just in time.
The 14-track record can best be described as a true journey album — with Niall’s mesmerizing vocals acting as the narrative and the pop-infused beats as the setting. Yet, it’s not a journey album in the typical sense — it explores different points-of-view within a narrative. The album is a distinct step away from Horan’s solo debut ‘Flicker‘ which only had a handful of uptempo songs among ballads. While it’s inevitable to compare ‘Flicker’ to ‘Heartbreak Weather’ — it’s on an unfair playing field. The two albums are distinctly different in terms of sound and storyline — one folkier, the other pop. This difference showcases Niall’s growth as an artist perfectly.
Niall’s pushed himself vocally on ‘Heartbreak Weather’ with songs like ‘Bend the Rules’ and ‘Still’ where his voice sounds completely different. High notes on songs like ‘Everywhere’ showcase his vocal range. Musically, he still has his core ballads such as ‘Put A Little Love on Me’ but the overwhelming majority of the songs are uptempo with heartbreaking lyrics, or sad songs dressed as happy ones.
The concept of ‘Heartbreak Weather’, a break-up album, revolves around the weather of heartbreak. The different points-of-view show his growth as an artist, since ‘Flicker’ was all ballads from a more personal point of view. What makes ‘Heartbreak Weather’ so different is the remarkably personal songs that listeners can put their own experiences to. Lyrics like “All of my life it’s been heartbreak weather / thinking to myself it won’t get better” from the title track is only one example of this. It’s clear Niall has grown as an artist, but with ‘Heartbreak Weather’ he’s not only pointing to his One Direction roots but putting his own gentle spin on them.
The album makes listeners want to fall in love and risk the chance of getting heartbroken simply to experience all the highs and lows Niall captures. The album shares a simple message: however messy the journey is, whether the sun shines or the rain pours — it will be worth it.
The true test of an album comes down to how many favorite songs you can take away from it. While ‘Black and White’ is a front-runner for me personally, I can say I fall in love more and more with the album with each listen. Much like Niall himself, I find it hard to list one single favorite.
Rest assured, Niall has expertly and perfectly avoided the sophomore slump with ‘Heartbreak Weather’.