Niall Horan does not kiss and tell, at least when it comes to interviews. Instead, the former One Direction bandmate wants to let his music do the talking as he prepares to release his as-yet-titled sophomore effort. And while buzz around a potential romance with Selena Gomez continues to grow, Horan is ready to unveil a different side of himself to the fans that have watched him since his 2010 audition on The X Factor. After going through a not-so-publicized breakup, he seems eager to capitalize on the rock musicality heard sparingly on his debut, Flicker, and, ultimately, change the way that we think about a traditional breakup album.
"It was the first thing that I wrote down," Horan, 26, told iHeartRadio of his upcoming album's concept, which positions each cut as a different emotion one goes through during a breakup. "It's the whole idea of the different types of days that you have when you break up with someone. It's not all like sitting around being sad. You have some days where you're rebellious and you want to go out in town and paint the town red type stuff and then you literally just have days where you do sit there and write sad songs and feel sorry for yourself and eat chocolate and literally watch TV."
Horan failed to namedrop his only public romance in recent years (Hailee Steinfeld), but the "why" seemed more telling than the "who" when it came down to the concept. In essence, the upcoming collection will flip the script on the idea of the long dreary breakup LP, with tracks relating to one another, songs written from the opposite person's perspective and more. "[It] represents all the different aspects of a breakup," he said. "I like the idea of it, instead of just being a typical breakup album, where every song is about the same thing. I just kind of want them to change things up."
For his reintroduction to the pop scene, which has witnessed all of his former bandmates release new material in the last month or so, Horan decided on "Nice To Meet Ya," a roaring slice of early 2000s-sounding Brit pop, which hears the singer recall a night out, where he met an unnamed female and kept bumping into her throughout the evening. Co-written by Horan, Julian Bunetta, Ruth-Anne Cunningham and Tobias Jesso Jr., the almost-three minute track is based on a true story, but more importantly, felt like an immediate standout among the tracks he recorded for the project. He knew it was one that prompted a reaction, but didn't stray too far from his territory "I feel like this just gets your ears perked up a little bit when it comes on just straight away...As I've been saying as well, if you're going to come back, make some noise dive with a splash," he added.
As for the clues spread throughout the video for "Nice To Meet Ya," Horan admitted that he wanted to throw in some bits for his fans to savor until the album drops next February or March. "It's all tied in on that kind of narrative," he said, citing the angel wings and seasonal weather clues in the The Young Astronauts-directed video. "It all comes together, but I just wanted to do it. I just want to drop in some bits and pieces, little Easter eggs, that they could enjoy when they wait around for me again," he said.
While Horan's agenda is to introduce a bigger sound to his discography, the upcoming set will certainly slow down the tempo, or at least he's hoping to. "There's a song on the record coming up [that] I haven't mentioned the name of it, but it was a piano ballad. When I release it, I'll probably just release it like that to show the fans what it was like [and] to give you an idea of what can happen in that process," he teased. "It was like really slow and just a four chord ballad and then I was hearing like kind of 'Teenage Dream' type vibes. I could hear it in the songwriting. It make sense as an acoustic song and it also makes sense as a big tune."
Photo: Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio