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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 1, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Pop artist breaks into rock sound

Heartbreak Weather

Capitol Records

Approximately four years after One Direction’s break up, singer Niall Horan started his solo career in 2017 and recently released his second album, “Heartbreak Weather.” The Irish artist released three lead singles to promote “Heartbreak Weather: “Nice to Meet Ya,” “Put a Little Love on Me” and “No Judgement.” Horan’s sound included mostly parent-approved pop, but now he has a newer, edgier rock influence mixed in throughout the album.

The album as a whole feels like a melodic version of a romantic comedy. Traditional and cliche tropes of love and heartbreak are displayed throughout the album. The title of Horan’s album, “Heartbreak Weather,” is a bit misleading, however, as all of the songs seem to be about loving and appreciating relationships rather than regretting them.

The second song on the album, “Black and White,” is a perfect example of how the album explores these cliche aspects of love and relationships. The song is an upbeat ballad that features lovey-dovey lyrics about imagining the future: “I promise that I’ll love you for the rest of my life/ See you standing in your dress… / There’ll never be another/ I promise that I’ll love you for the rest of my life.” There seem to be similarities to Ed Sheeran’s “Think out Loud” or One Direction’s “Little Things,” almost to the point of commercialization. 

Both Sheeran and Horan’s songs feature the idea of loving your significant other and imagining marriage and life with each other. However, this idea of love is portrayed as cookie-cutter and similar to a Hallmark movie. But the redeemable aspects of this song are the tempo and Horan’s belting vocals in the bridge because they offer something engaging. 

“Small Talk” is a great example of how One Direction’s hiatus benefited Horan. It is a great addition to Horan’s growing discography. This song starts off slow and sweet but suddenly turns into a seductive song with a heavy tempo. This track makes the listener want to snap or clap along to the beat. However, the song comes off as choppy.

“Nice to Meet Ya” is an upbeat song that, again, just makes the listener want to bob their head through the song’s rock influences. The soulful vocals combined with a confident tempo drive this track. The confident background features a piano and backup vocals that make this song so original. This song also stands out because of the simplicity of the lyrics while it heavily showcases the fun, instrumental side of music.

“Heartbreak Weather” is a great breakaway from the original path that Horan’s music had been on. By injecting rock influences into his new music, Horan’s sound benefited tremendously. Though the inspiration for this album feels cliche, this album is a great diving board from which Horan can develop and improve his sound.