One Direction star turned solo success Niall Horan is back with his highly anticipated third album ‘The Show’. Following the success of his previous albums ‘Flicker’ and ‘Heartbreak Weather’ Horan does not disappoint with his latest eclectic release. ‘The Show’ explores deeper meanings to previous work after having time to reflect on life during our multiple lockdowns. Indeed, the album was mostly written during the pandemic, with further writing sessions taking place at the Joshua Tree, California with Amy Allen and Tobias Jesso Jr.
Lead single ‘Heaven’ was released back in February, touching on the idea of not conforming to societal pressures. The single has a retro vibe but with a modern yet dreamy twist. Second single ‘Meltdown’ was an instant hit with his fanbase. The distinct instrumental makes the track memorable with uptempo guitar and percussion along with his fast-paced vocals, radiating a high energy feel despite touching on deeper meanings of anxiety. From the very first line of the song it is clear the message he is portraying, with lyrics like “when it all melts down I’ll be there” delivering feelings of warmth and support to his listeners.
The 29-year-old shines with title track ‘The Show’, a cinematic masterpiece urging himself to take life as it comes and to follow the path he is on without worrying over the unpredictability of life. Perhaps the highlight of the album, however, is beautifully written track ‘Science’; “Can you feel what’s beneath?” he sings, “Is it stone cold under your feet?” The song connects to someone struggling with depression and provides them with hope: “When you feel there’s nothing left, oh there’s still a heart beating in your chest”. This emotional yet heartfelt message is sure to touch the hearts of all ages in his audience.
Snappily titled ‘You Could Start A Cult’ is a sweet, romantic track accompanied by an acoustic guitar throughout, before 80’s influences – think Springsteen – begin to show with a harmonica solo, followed by a piano outro. ‘Never Grow Up’ perfectly shows us how Niall views life at this moment in time. Despite approaching 30, it is clear that he wants to remain young in heart as he grows old with his lover. “Hope we still fight over bands that we love, hope we still cry cause we’re laughing too much…”
Niall Horan vows for a more rock genre in ‘If You Leave Me’, the catchy chorus giving the song a high energy feel. Themes of infatuation are clear in ‘Save My Life’, blending that 80s feel with a saxophone solo. Horan’s admiration becomes apparent throughout the chorus (“Ever since you walked in, I’m starting to feel like you might save my life”). Indeed, the harmonies are superb throughout ‘On A Night Like Tonight’ which will surely become a crowd favourite on tour.
Niall closes ‘The Show’ with an upbeat, feel good love anthem – ‘Must Be Love’ is sure to get his fans dancing on their feet at the end of the night. In the song he admits to overthinking his relationships and not following his heart; “But if it feels like love, it must be love” and that he must keep it simple.
‘The Show’ is a metaphor for the journey of life. There will be ups and downs, good and bad but just live in the moment and enjoy the ride. The album clearly demonstrates this link with the tracklist varying from upbeat, high energy songs to more slow emotive tracks. The album was designed to echo a gig setlist so listeners can feel as if they are at ‘The Show’ from home. Overall, this is undoubtedly Niall Horan’s finest and most mature album to date – and was certainly worth the wait.
Words: Hannah Sinclair