Louis Tomlinson Hits a Wall on “Walls”


Louis Tomlinson’s first album outside 1D fails to captivate listeners. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Grace Robinson

The split of One Direction (1D) hit hard for some of us, but it also blessed us with the soloists that emerged.

Rarely do we see a boy band break into several successful, independent artists. Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Liam Payne have each released their own albums. In a beautiful series of events, the breakup of 1D allowed four of the members to push their careers to new heights.

Yet Louis Tomlinson, the fifth member of the band, fell silent.

When we were younger, we each had a favorite 1D member, whether it was Harry, the heartthrob, or Niall, the sweetheart. Even in the beginning, Louis was positioned as the quirky one who rarely had lead vocals. Of course, we loved Louis because he completed the five boys in the band, but seldom was he the poster boy on your wall.

Louis disappeared following the split of the band. While the other members were off creating increasingly polished tracks, Louis spent a long period of time recovering from the loss of his mother and sister. While managing his grief and the pressure to release new music, Louis fell off the radar.

Louis Tomlinson’s first album “Walls” was released at the end of January and established the beginning of his solo career.

Before even listening to the tracks, I imagined the immense pressure Louis must have faced while writing the album. Not only is he the last member to produce his own sound, but his album was dropped only a month after the release of Harry’s “Fine Line,” which debuted at number one on Billboard’s 200. Finally breaking his silence, Louis had a lot to prove with this album.

I wanted nothing more than for Louis to find himself and break away from the constraints of the boy band. Yet, within only a matter of seconds listening to the tracks, it feels like 1D.

The vocals appear as youthful and slightly undeveloped as the boy band appeared in their early stages, and without the support of other singers, the performance lacks a certain power.

Take “Kill My Mind,” for example. The song has a strong build-up to its chorus and exciting instrumentals reminiscent of 1D. Yet I am quickly brought back to the realization that 1D is over and this is simply Louis Tomlinson playing the part in this one-man show.

For those who miss the teen pop genre that was 1D, this album may be the sequel you have longed for, with tracks like “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” and “Always You” that include vocal layering in an attempt to make up for the lack of depth.

The abundance of flat, repetitive tracks proves that Louis’ first appearance in the spotlight was rushed and untimely. However, while Louis’ debut album is not the creative masterpiece I envisioned, it still manages to carry an abundance of potential.

Most importantly, the album was completely written by Louis, which is not only admirable but shows he is capable of composing strong lyrics. On their own, many of the lyrics stand out to me as intriguing and poetic, but alongside Louis’ Auto-Tuned voice and mainstream pop production, they quickly lose their charm.

I hoped that his album would encompass the moments of grief he felt from losing loved ones, paired with moments of progress towards peace.

Louis had the platform to create a masterpiece that left him vulnerable and reachable. Yet the pop-rock delivery lacking in genuine emotion and dimension sent Louis in the wrong direction. The only song dedicated to the passing is “Two of Us.”

There is no surprise that entering the music scene comes at the price of pressure, competition and expectations. Louis Tomlinson, a former member of 1D, experienced these elements to an extreme as he remained in the shadows of his four bandmates.

Sadly, “Walls” feels less than complete.