October 20, 2017
|Singles from Flicker|
In February 2016, upon returning from a worldwide backpacking trip, Niall began writing songs for a potential solo release.
In an email letter sent to fans in December 2016, Niall revealed he was primarily recording in Los Angeles, with producers such as Jacquire King and Don Was. Was later told Billboard: "Niall showed up with a bunch of really great songs he wrote, he sings really well. He was thoroughly professional, humble and sweet. He spent time talking with all the musicians - everybody loved him." Was said Niall contacted him after hearing John Mayer's Born and Raised album, which Was produced. In February 2017, Niall told UK tabloid The Sun that he "has no life now. I'm just working on my album". Niall's letter also explained his recording process, stating: "we record everything from scratch, all the music is recorded live with a full band, with me singing. Afterward, I record my guitar parts and we add on percussion etc". He also stated the album production was "8 songs deep". In March 2017, Capitol Records Pop Promotions VP Joe Rainey stated "Niall is remarkably talented...I’m excited for what he’s going to be creating because in the few times I’ve engaged with him, that’s a remarkably talented man...We’re really excited. He’s feverishly recording."
In April 2017, Niall tweeted that he was in the process of rehearsing his new live band. In May 2017, Niall revealed he wrote 70 songs for the album, of which 16 were chosen. He confirmed the album was mostly completed. Niall stated that "about half" of the songs were personal to him and there would be equal amounts of upbeat and slower songs. Speaking to Zane Lowe, Niall stated: "I’ve been taking my time on [the album], because I’m really enjoying it. I want to make sure that I get every single bit of it right, whether it be how the song is portrayed, how it sounds, every guitar part I play, I want to play it perfect. In the studio, we’re spending 11-12 hour days in there, making sure every instrument sounds as good as the next." Niall told TMRW Magazine in June 2017 that "When you hear the album, you'll probably think I was an emotional wreck. There's some really personal stuff on it. It sounds stalker-ish, but I could be sitting on a train, see a couple talking to each other and I’d think of a [song] concept around the way that they look at each other. I don’t write all the time from personal experience – sometimes I have concepts."
In July 2017, it was confirmed Niall would begin touring the album in September, followed by the official release a month later. The tour was titled Flicker Sessions 2017, leading fans to believe the album would be titled Flicker, which Niall eventually confirmed.
Niall marked the album release by collaborating with iHeartRadio for a release party, and debuting a documentary called On The Record, detailing the album's recording process. During the party, he revealed the track "Mirrors" was written as a way of addressing body insecurities young women commonly feel.
On September 2016, a year prior to the album's release, Niall debuted his first solo single "This Town", and announced a new record deal with Capitol Records. This Town was a worldwide success, peaking at #9 in the United Kingdom and #20 in the United States.On May 4, Niall released second single "Slow Hands", which also became a global hit, peaking at #7 in the United Kingdom and #11 in the United States. The single saw Niall reunite with longtime One Direction songwriter/producer, Julian Bunetta. On 1 August 2017, Niall was photographed filming the music video for his third single "Too Much To Ask", which was subsequently released on September 15, 2017. On 5 February 2018, Niall confirmed "On The Loose" would serve as the album's fourth single. A lyric video was released to Niall's official YouTube channel but subsequently removed days later, after claims of plagiarism surfaced. The music video was released on 6 March, 2018.
- “On The Loose”
- "This Town”
- “Seeing Blind” (with Maren Morris)
- “Slow Hands”
- “Too Much To Ask”
- “Paper Houses”
- “Since We’re Alone”
- “Fire Away”
- “You and Me”
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
- “On My Own”
- “The Tide”
In Ireland, the Netherlands and the United States, Flicker debuted at number one. It debuted with 152,000 album-equivalent units (128,000 pure album sales) to open atop of the US Billboard 200. Elsewhere, it opened at number two in Australia and Italy while entering at number three in New Zealand, Scotland, and the United Kingdom.