Niall Horan positioned upright on an office chair, beside a construction site, in the midst of tempestuous-but-luminous weather — this is the album art for the singer’s sophomore release, Heartbreak Weather, which chases the former One Direction member’s breakthrough collection, Flicker, in 2017. This album rocks Horan’s bona fide pop kin, versus the folksy ambience imported last time around.
The album kicks off with the title track, introducing the singer-songwriter’s bright side. “Heartbreak Weather” — written by Horan, Julian Bunetta, Jamie Scott and John Ryan — is laced with euphoric synth instrumentation. Despite the title, the track is not a heartache anthem, but a love song. Niall sings, “All of my life it’s been heartbreak weather // Thinkin’ to myself, it won’t get better // It can be so lonely in this city // but it feels different when you’re with me.” Perhaps he predicted the country’s current state of self-isolation.
The three lead singles — vociferous Arctic Monkeys’ rock-fused “Nice to Meet Ya,” piano ballad “Put A Little Love On Me” and bouncy “No Judgement” — provided a pre-tasting staple that alluded to the soon-to-come melodic experimentations. While anxiety-stained, but subtly optimistic, “Bend the Rules” confronts the suspicion pertaining to a partner’s truth. “Small Talk” trails off of “Bend the Rules” as an R&B-equipped, sensual escalade. He confesses, “Tell me what you want because you know I want it too // Let’s skip all the small talk and go straight up to your room // I’ve been thinking what I’d do when I’m alone with you // Just say nothing, small talk only gets in the way.”
“Dear Patience,” “Still” and “Black and White” conform to Horan’s pre-existing love for soft acoustics and serenity. The collection is embedded with comfortable melodies and a roller coaster of emotions. “Arms of a Stranger” haunts familiar, nostalgic balladry that punches you in the gut.
“I had so much fun and a lot of hard moments writing this album and I’m very proud of the record as a body of work,” Horan Tweeted as the album dropped. “NOW IT’S YOURS,” he added via Instagram. “Thanks for an amazing response to my new album heartbreak weather. It’s obviously a very strange time in the world right now but I hope that in the crazy time my music is bringing you something nice and everyone is safe in their homes whilst doing so… love you all. Keep buying and streaming.”
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