Following the success of the biggest boy band of the 2010s, former One Direction member Louis Tomlinson debuted his first solo album, “Walls,” on Jan. 31.
As the last of the group to release a solo project, all eyes were on the young artist to see if his successes would be equal to those of his musical counterparts — Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Liam Payne. Styles won Best International Artist at the 2017 ARIA Music Awards and Malik snagged Best Solo Breakout at the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards, to name a couple accolades.
While Tomlinson’s album reached No. 1 on the iTunes charts the night of its release, the record did not prove to be original or well-written. Tomlinson has struggled to discover his own musical identity — his upbeat pop sounds and heavy use of group vocals on tracks like “Always You” and “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” strongly reflect One Direction hits like “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Steal My Girl”.
Some of Tomlinson’s lyrics on the album seem to allude to his glory days with the illustrious pop band. “‘Cause we made it/Underestimated/And always underrated/Now we’re saying goodbye,” he sings on “We Made It.” On the same track, he even acknowledges the similarities to old One Direction songs with the lyrics, “Singing something poppy on the same four chords.” He sounds as if he’s ok with the lack of individuality, singing, “Used to worry ‘bout it but I don’t no more.”
The same goes for the song “Too Young.” He sings, “We were too young/I’ve been looking back a lot lately/Me and you is all I’ve ever known/It’s hard to think you could ever hate me/But everything’s feeling different now.” While the sentiment is hidden in a love ballad, it seems Tomlinson is missing the good old days with his bandmates.
There are a few gems hidden in his lackluster album, however. His opener “Kill My Mind” gives us a taste of the potential originality in Tomlinson’s music. The song echoes rock melodies with heavy percussion and grunge in his voice. The energetic, upbeat feeling of this song would make it a killer concert opener on a hypothetical future tour.
Another gem is the beautifully written tribute “Two of Us,” which he wrote after the death of his mother in 2016. This song is one of the best on the album. It’s apparent Tomlinson wrote from a place of real pain and emotion. The lyrics are relatable to those who have experienced the death of a loved one: “I will be the best of me/Always keep you next to me/I’ll be living one life for the two of us/Even when I’m on my own/I know I won’t be alone.”
The rest of the tracks on the album, including the title song “Walls,” are equally as dull as the uninspired album. They hold no real significance on the record and are easily forgettable to those who aren’t die-hard Tomlinson fans.
While this album was highly anticipated by long-time One Direction devotees, the buzz of the record has already fallen significantly. Post-release, “Walls” dwindled down on the iTunes top album charts. With some more self-discovery and an added flavor, a second album from Tomlinson might have more success.