No Slow Climb to the Top for Niall Horan’s “Slow Hands” (music review)

photo credit: https://twitter.com/NiallOfficial

So, in case you’ve somehow missed all the anticipation building up since the announcement was made a few days ago, Niall Horan has released the second single off his upcoming album. It debuted today and has already claimed the number one spot on the charts. And I have to say, it is quite a departure from his first solo single, “This Town”. The new single, entitled “Slow Hands,” has a more defined beat than “This Town” thanks to a bass guitar and perhaps a muted foot pedal drum or even a box drum. It’s a very sexy, slow dance beat. Niall’s music as a solo artist thus far has been said to be in the indie pop vein, and I agree. “This Town” was very acoustic–just Niall and a guitar–and “Slow Hands” follows that spirit but with a throwback vibe to the seventies and eighties.

There was one thing I noticed right off the bat when listening that I can’t help but wonder was a deliberate choice or not. If you listen closely, particularly in the first verse, there’s an odd syncopation in the singing. It’s as if, during recording, they took out the teeniest chunk of audio every so often. Not enough to affect the comprehension of any individual word but more like the last syllable of the word got cut off prematurely, creating an odd grace note-like pause between phrases.

The lyrics I found intriguing because they are pretty direct and yet somehow manage to leave things to the imagination at the same time. According to Niall in an interview with SiriusXM Music, the concept for the song was built around the first two lines of the song and flipping the point of view of the speaker of those words from male to female. If that’s the case, I’d be interested to see what a music video storyboard would look like for this song.

Overall though, if this song is any representation of what Niall’s album will sound like, it’s much more sophisticated musically than the bulk of the music he created as part of One Direction. I’m a fan of One Direction’s music, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think that rhythm and sound wise the group’s music was particularly different or innovative when compared to the rest of the pop genre. For this reason, I’m excited to hear Niall’s solo album in full when it drops later this year.

What do you think of Niall’s new music?

❤ Rachel


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