The forecast is clear: Niall Horan has lent a little Irish luck to this Friday the 13th by releasing his second solo album, Heartbreak Weather.
The former One Directioner had a lot to live up to, considering his 2017 debut, Flicker, hit No. 1 in the U.S. and spawned a global hit with “Slow Hands.” Thankfully, his follow-up proves worth the wait with 14 new tracks that are more pop-oriented than Flicker‘s cozy folk leanings. It opens with the ’80s-ish title track, on which Horan sing-screams about how the “clouds have been lifted” by someone new in his life. That’s followed by the equally optimistic “Black and White,” a driving love song made for wedding days, on which Horan makes sweeping declarations like, “I want the world to witness when we finally say ‘I do'” and “I promise that I’ll love you for the rest of my life.”
That energy and playfulness resurface on the addictive rebound jam “New Angel,” the cocky Brit-pop of lead single “Nice To Meet Ya,” and the funky, frisky “Small Talk”: the closest thing you’ll find to “Slow Hands.” “Let’s skip all the small talk and go straight up to your room,” he sings on that standout track. “I’ve been thinkin’ what I’d do when I’m alone with you.”
Horan’s other mode on Heartbreak Weather is, of course, heartbreak — the man handily knows his way around a ballad. He asks an ex to take him back on the regretful “San Francisco,” tries and fails to get over someone on “Arms of a Stranger,” and flaunts his falsetto on album closer “Still,” a slow-building power ballad on which he belts, “If honesty means telling you the truth / Well, I’m still in love with you.”
The cover art for Horan’s new album, as you’ve surely seen by now, features the 26-year-old standing on a chair in the middle of the road, look remarkably calm while a nasty-looking thunderstorm brews behind him. It’s kind of a fitting metaphor for what the world feels like right now, which is why fresh, feel-good music like this is so needed. Stream Heartbreak Weather below in its entirety.