Niall Horan’s Flicker has the rises and falls of someone working through relationship dynamics for the first time. And it sounds like he’s been listening to The Eagles, a lot.
On the Loose is about being on the losing end of attraction to a woman who uses attraction as power. It’s definitely heavy on male gaze, but there’s agency in the trouble she causes (“She doesn’t know how to lose”).
There’s circularity in This Town. There’s the emotional loop the lyrics draw. There’s also the airy guitar line driving the melody. Its repetition feels like Kacey Musgraves’s Merry Go ‘Round—an idea sturdied by “children playing in this fairground.” And that idea—wanting to go back to playful younger days—makes me think of Madonna’s This Used to Be My Playground.
Seeing Blind is about the beauty of the unexpected. It features Maren Morris, and her verse's first line, “My heart was always on the run,” is super on-brand (see also, “80s Mercedes”).
I think this Slow Hands lyric means he wants her stuck on him like sweat. Which, ok. But I’m still putting it next to Color Me Badd’s “Making love until we drown” in the pantheon of remarkably awkward metaphors about sex.
Too Much to Ask is a plea to admit it hurts being apart. It’s about wanting more reciprocal closure.
Paper Houses is feeling that you believed too much and tried too fearlessly. It left you completely unprepared for the fate of that faith to be heartbreak, which, of course, you only realized when the house fell apart.
Niall makes promises in Since We’re Alone. It’s assurance (“If you put it all in my hand... I won’t break it all apart”).
The title track seeps with mutual loneliness. Being in it together doesn’t save you, and you know that before you’ve admitted it to each other.
Fire Away is an invitation, much like Since We’re Alone, to trust. It’s offering to be the safe place to land.
The story of You and Me is that the now between us is happening for a reason or, more accurately, a worth. That means the moments described in the song aren’t so much rationale as justification. It’d be hollow for me to suggest my pursuits are for you, but if a better me would make a better us, there might be shared value in them.
October 20, 2017
AFTERHRS · Greg Kurstin · Jacquire King · Julian Bunetta · TMS
Alexander Izquierdo · Ben Kohn · Daniel Bryer · Daniel Dodd Wilson · Ed Drewett · Greg Kurstin · Iain Archer · Jamie Scott · John Henry Ryan · John Ryan · Julian Bunetta · Maren Morris · Matthew Smith Radosevich · Matt Rad · Mike Needle · Niall Horan · Pete Kelleher · Ruth-Anne "Rooty" Cunningham · Tobias Jesso Jr. · Tom Barnes