Faith In The Future, Louis Tomlinson’s second solo album, is a tough nut to crack. It’s a step forward for the young artist, but it feels stilted and unexciting. A lot of the album plays like it should have come out in 2004 instead of 2022.
The album kicks off with ‘The Greatest’, a catchy tune as far as openers go but it also encapsulates the problem with Faith In The Future. It lacks identity and the lyrics just aren’t very good.
“Demons, I’m takin’ all of my demons / Putting them where I won’t see them,” Tomlinson sings in ‘Out Of My System’. All the lyrics throughout the album are painfully straightforward in an attempt to say something real, but lyrics like “We grab some food / then meet the lads for one” don’t really offer any insight into what Tomlinson wants to say with Faith In The Future.
It’s undoubtedly an album about love, both lost and found, but it doesn’t say anything new or exciting about it. Faith In The Future doesn’t sound personal or intimate. While no artist should be forced to pour their entire personal life into a record, Tomlinson seems to still resist giving us anything, even a snippet of who he actually is.
If you don’t have the lyrics, you at least need the tunes and melodies. Tomlinson’s album lacks proper earworms, the songs bleed into one another without any individuality. There are some great songs (‘She Is Beauty We Are World Class’ is the type of song that is played at 2.54am), just before the club closes and you’re on top of the world.
‘All This Time’ is a bit too understated for its own good (as is the entire album) but there is a catchiness to it, a nice mellow vibe. ‘Bigger Than Me’ is a refreshingly simple indie-rock tune, clearly designed to be belted out at a stadium for a crowd holding up lighters.
‘Chicago’ is a genuinely nice little ballad and perhaps the album’s best, along with ‘She Is Beauty We Are World Class’. The two contrasting sounds define the central confusion within Tomlinson’s music, which alternates seemingly indecisively between indie rock and a more electric sound.
The whole album switches between crisp guitar riffs and soft electric synths, but it doesn’t feel as effortless as it should. Instead of being experimental, Faith In The Future comes across as confused, proving Tomlinson still hasn’t figured out his own sound.
Vocally, his voice seems unremarkable and, at times, too thin to carry out some of the more challenging vocal arrangements. It’s all very nice and conforming, which is disappointing. It doesn’t feel fair to compare Tomlinson to his former bandmate Harry Styles, but whereas Styles has showcased genuine curiosity and a willingness to reinvent himself, Tomlinson’s sound feels stale and stuck in the early 2000s.
Faith In The Future is a definite improvement over 2020’s Walls, Tomlinson’s debut solo album but his second solo outing still lacks that signature something. The album feels dated in its musicality and restrained in its lyrics. It doesn’t bring us any closer to understand who Tomlinson is as an individual artist.