For the first time ever, Louis Tomlinson has released a solo album. On Jan. 31, Tomlinson dropped Walls, a record consisting of 12 emotional and catchy songs.
In 2010, Tomlinson began his rise to fame as a member of One Direction, a highly successful boy band that quickly gained a global fan base. For a period of time after the band split in 2015, Tomlinson remained the only former member who had not released a solo album of his own. After years of delay, Tomlinson has released his solo album, and it is worth the wait.
The album opens with “Kill My Mind,” a drum-heavy track that immediately sets the tone of the record to follow. Repeating, “You kill my mind/ Raise my body back to life,” to a catchy melody, Tomlinson flourishes in his exploration of his new, personal sound. Though slightly repetitive, the fun and buoyant beat is a stretch from Tomlinson’s previous singles, fully introducing his independent musical versatility for the first time.
The album takes a shift in tone with “We Made It,” a mellow pop song highlighting Tomlinson’s personal experience with fame and loss. During his One Direction days, the unique sound of Tomlinson’s bright and higher pitched voice often deemed him more unpopular than his boy band counterparts. With lyrics such as “‘Cause we made it/ Underestimated/ And always underrated,” Tomlinson references his experience, bringing an optimistic approach to an issue that clearly bothered him. Although the track is pretty linear without much of a climax, the emotional lyrics make up for the production flaws and result in an overall enjoyable song.
Continuing with “Walls,” the album explores emotional depth with a slower, melancholy vibe. Upon the release of the music video for the song, fans began speculating “Walls” paid homage to Tomlinson’s boy band days when a brief scene showed the singer alongside what is perceived to be shadows of his former bandmates. Singing, “These high walls never broke my soul/ and I watched them all come fallin’ down,” Tomlinson might be referring to the end of his boy band journey, successfully playing on the nostalgia of his fans. As the song progresses, the instrumentation that is built up steers it into a powerful rock ballad, making the weight of the lyrics and melody feel equally balanced for a beautiful and moving result.
Concluding with “Only The Brave,” a laid-back approach is taken in the two minute finale of the album. Tomlinson channels a Beatles-esque sound with an interesting voice filter, making the song sound like it is playing off a record player. With a thick English accent, singing lyrics such as “I never cared for love/ It’s the church of burnt romances/ And I’m too far gone to pray,” Tomlinson keeps the song minimal with a slow guitar accompaniment. The song feels personal but underwhelming all the same, a lyrically nuanced track that isn’t met with enough character to successfully compensate the calamity and make it feel like a satisfying ending.
Though some songs are certainly repetitive and a little flat, Walls is a beautiful and honest album that proves Tomlinson is deserving of his place in the music industry. With satisfying instrumentation alongside consistently beautiful lyrics, Tomlinson has created an overall successful debut album.
3.5 out of 5