Irish singer and former One Directioner Niall Horan returns this week with the follow-up to his 2017 debut Flicker. The new album is called Heartbreak Weather and arrives in stores today, here's all you need to know...
One Direction may be long gone, but fans of the former boyband sure are enjoying a decent run of late; between Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson, the band's former members have released three albums in as many months.
This week their erstwhile bandmate Niall Horan makes it four in four with the release of his sophomore album Heartbreak Weather, which makes its way into stores today. Here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
Following the arrival of his debut album in 2017, Horan spent much of the following year on an extensive tour which took in 81 dates across five continents, kicking off in Dublin and finally ending up in Florida's West Palm Beach.
Word of a follow-up to his debut first surfaced in June last year, when Horan promised fans some new music by the end of 2019. Sure enough, the new album's lead single 'Nice To Meet Ya' arrived in October, with the announcement of the new album's title and release date following in February this year.
Who's producing it?
Two of the producers on Horan's debut album - namely Julian Bunetta and Greg Kurstin – return to make contributions to the new one too, as does songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr., while new contributors to Heartbreak Weather include Teddy Geiger, Jamie Scott and Daniel Bryar, to name just a few.
Any special guests?
Plenty on the songwriting and production side of things, but in terms of vocal performers it's just Horan going it alone on the new record.
What does it sound like?
With a few notable exceptions such as 'On the Loose', Horan's debut album Flicker contained quite a high proportion of slow jams and ballads, with even some of the album's standout hits like 'Slow Hands' being fairly downtempo numbers. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but as Horan has no doubt discovered while out on the road in the last couple of years, too many slow songs can make it difficult to maintain a high level of energy at live shows.
On Heartbreak Weather, there are moments that feel like a conscious attempt to address this, not least on the bright and breezy 'Nice To Meet Ya', which finds Horan doing his best Alex Turner impression over a backing track that wouldn't feel too out of place on a Kasabian record. 'No Judgement' is another one of the album's more upbeat moments, powered by a Sheeran-esque shuffling groove, that may well rank as one of the album's catchiest tunes, alongside Kurstin co-write 'New Angel'.
Not everything is geared that way though; 'Put A Little Love On Me' is a big, piano-led ballad that would've sat quite neatly alongside the songs on his debut, while elsewhere there are occasional hints of the folk influences that were a feature of his debut LP.
Does it deliver?
Horan made a point of channelling the soft rock influences that formed his musical tastes on his debut album, but has worried in recent interviews that in doing so he was pigeonholing himself a little, so it's no surprise to find the Irish singer spreading his wings a little more on its follow-up.
There's definitely more stylistic breadth on display here, and if you enjoyed the scruffy pop-rock of Flicker, but could have done with a few more uptempo bops, you'll probably find plenty to like about Horan's latest full-length effort.