By: Angela Silva
Louis Tomlinson jump-started his career back in 2010 when the famous English-Irish boyband One Direction was formed on the televised singing competition “The X Factor UK.” From there, the band’s success skyrocketed and their music took over the world as well as the hearts of many 14 and 15-year-old girls. Unfortunately, after the band dissolved in 2015, it seems as though Louis Tomlinson remains living in that era of who he used to be, both sonically and artistically. In his new album, “Walls,” Tomlinson released music filled with fairytale romance and unoriginal beats, proving that most of his voice as an artist still derives from an outdated sound that was once popular in One Direction.
The debut of “Walls” makes Louis the last member of One Direction to release a solo project. Sadly, Tomlinson’s debut album lies in the bottom ranks compared to his ex-bandmates’ debut albums. He struggles to find his niche and demonstrate true musical development. His album lacks any sign of individuality, especially considering he had several years to do so. The tracks on the album wash each other out, leaving no standouts and creating an endless stream of nostalgic One Direction-esque acoustics, like outtakes that never made the group’s album. For example, the music production on “Too Young” can easily remind one of One Direction’s “You and I” due to the soft guitar strums and the slow climactic formula they both follow. And even then, the playful, acoustic sound serves more as a signature for Niall Horan rather than for any other band member, especially Tomlinson, since Horan was the one who often played guitar for the group.
Not only is the music production mediocre on the album, but Tomlinson’s lyrics also fall flat. The wordplay is superficial and nearly non-existent as he continues to serenade that one special “you,” whoever that may be, probably the same 14-year-old fangirls that have grown over the age of 20 by now. For example, in “We Made It,” Tomlinson sings, “Share a single bed and tell each other what we dream about / Things we’’d never say to someone else out loud.” The lyrics are straightforward and hint at a youthful, romantic fantasy an eighth-grader would have, showing Tomlinson’s inability to capture fresh, complex ideas for his music. “We were only kids just tryna work it out,” Tomlinson sings afterward, once again alluding to the past he so desperately wants to go back to.
Throughout the rest of the album, Tomlinson goes on to sing about love, distance and heartbreak, but he wears those emotions like a shirt, not necessarily feeling the emotions in his heart. Considering the project is titled “Walls,” one would expect more vulnerability out of Tomlinson but instead, listeners are forced to hit theat hard wall that prevents Louis from reaching his full potential as a musician.
It is disappointing because Tomlinson has gone through unimaginable hardships, such as losing both his sister and mother, which undoubtedly changed his life. His music should be vulnerable enough to change, too, instead of sticking to tried conventions. Not that audiences are entitled to Tomlinson’s — or any artist’s — traumatic experiences, but more often than not, an artist opening up to face their internal struggles helps create some of the most beautiful, heartfelt music.
Louis Tomlinson’s debut album shows audiences that he is afraid to experiment with music and is instead stuck in his One Direction glory days. At the moment, he has no original sound and has yet to leave an impact as a solo artist, but that can be arranged if he simply came to terms with his true, inner self, and shared it. Unless Tomlinson develops his confidence and musical skill-set, he will never venture into unknown music realms. But since he hasn’t found his own voice yet, he remains a forgettable artist either seeking fast money or attempting to relive the One Direction frenzy he used to be a part of.