Louis Tomlinson – “Walls” Album Review

Story posted February 5, 2020 in

After announcing a “hiatus” in 2015, the members of One Direction have each gone on to produce their own music. Perhaps when they were One Direction they felt trapped to make one type of music.

With this indefinite split, it gave each member a chance to have their own spotlight. It has worked out for Harry Styles, who just released his second solo album to critical and fan success. Niall Horan released his solo album in 2017, and went on to have solid radio play-time, and Louis Tomlinson has just released his album, “Walls.”

This is Tomlinson’s first full solo album, and it amplifies his style of music. With the feeling of One Direction pop, he intertwines rock that attempts to launch himself into his own style, and away from One Direction. This style is highlighted in “Walls.”

Additionally, with no song hitting the four-minute mark, Tomlinson seems to be trying to reach a certain demographic; whether that be radio or a streaming platform.

The album starts off with “Kill My Mind.” A song that seems to rely on the chorus, having only two verses and every pre-chorus and the bridge being a repetitive: “Kill my, kill my…” four consecutive lines in a row before jumping back into the chorus.

The song has pros and cons: good production elements albeit lackluster lyrics. The chorus is catchy and the instrumentals are simple yet lead to a powerful explosion each time the repetitive chorus hits. However, the lyrics lack depth and the emotion that the first song on an album needs to bring.

“Don’t Let It Break It Your Heart,” is the type of song every listener has heard, no matter what genre of music they listen to. Yet, he is taking his own experiences in life and tries to put it in a relatable form in order for it not to sound overbearing: “What hurts you is gonna pass and /You'll have learnt from it when it comes back.”

These are the lyrics of someone who wants to move on. Whether it be Tomlinson aiming for a bigger audience with his solo career, or something more private that the fans do not necessarily know about (relationships or family issues).

The highlights of this album are the production elements. Having over ten different credited producers, it pays off as the instrumentals and the beats that provide “background” for the lyrics unintentionally overpower Tomlinson’s vocals.

Such as in the beat that gradually builds throughout “Two of Us” and leads to the crescendo in the chorus or the acoustic guitar track of “Too Young” that is slow and steady and leads to the chorus that has some lyrical depth: “…I wish I could've seen it all along / I'm sorry that I hurt you, darling, no, oh.”

Throughout the album, Tomlinson seems to be acknowledging his mistakes and moving on from them with the maturity of a once boy band phenomenon.

The title track “Walls,” starts off the second half of the album. Led by a light acoustic guitar and a soft orchestra, “Walls,” is a high point on the album. “But these high walls, they came up short / Now I stand taller than them all.” These are lyrics that provide depth about moving on and bouncing back after personal troubles are common in all genres, yet Tomlinson, uses the metaphor of walls to symbolize being the better man and standing taller than anything that comes in his way.

“Habit” brings the album back to love with a pleasant backing track and lyrics which bring out the best in Tomlinson: “I took some time 'cause I've ran out of energy/ Of playing someone I heard I’m supposed to be.” In the context of the song he is talking about a personal relationship, yet out of context it can be brought into a much another theme of simply being yourself. 

Tomlinson has themes throughout the album that solidify his standing as an artist in the pop-rock genre. With guitar heavy tracks mixed in with more pop sounds, the blend is what makes him stand out as on his own.

The last two songs on the album reinstate the themes of the album of love and being yourself, and moving on.

“Defenceless” is a clever title with a catchy chorus: “Never been so defenceless/
You just keep on buildin' up your fences.” Listeners like clever titles. This one happens to stick to the album title “Walls.” In this instance, Tomlinson is projecting his vulnerability, but they keep protecting themselves. From what, he is unsure.

The last track on the album, which is also the shortest, has an interesting production element as the song sounds as if it is coming through an old radio or through a record player. “Only the Brave” is an acoustic guitar track and little else. It ends the album simply and just right.

While “Walls” has its high points, it also has some low points. Some songs don’t quite stand out or are lyrically original. While it is a solid first solo album, Tomlinson still has a lot of growing to do if he wants to stand out further than his other former members of One Direction.

Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Track: “Walls” and “Habit”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Track: “Kill My Mind”

 


William Roche is a junior majoring in film/video. To contact him, email
wtr5043@psu.edu.