Faith in the Future (Deluxe)
When you’ve been a member of one of the biggest boy bands in music history, navigating a solo career that is both authentic and individual to you can be a disorienting experience. Not so for Louis Tomlinson, who course-corrected his initial post-1D EDM-influenced pop towards the indie, Britpop, and stadium rock lanes he feels most comfortable in, with the release of his debut album, Walls, in 2020. On his follow-up effort, Faith in the Future, Tomlinson anchors himself more firmly in this identity. Lyrically, he is in much the same headspace as he was on his debut album, ruminating on love and romance—the grounding feeling of returning to his hometown and the importance of looking out for each other in hard times. As the album title suggests, however, Tomlinson’s outlook is more optimistic and forward-focused this time around. He’s more concerned with the road ahead than sorting through the baggage he might be carrying with him along the way. Having spent much of the first half of 2022 on tour, it’s perhaps no surprise that this record sources inspiration from the energy of a live show, pulling from influences like DMA’S on the galloping sing-along “Face the Music,” while soaring lead single “Bigger Than Me” and the thumping momentum of “Out of My System” aspire to world stages and huge crowds. Elsewhere, “Written All Over Your Face” calls to mind early Arctic Monkeys—showcasing a lyrical wit and sleek, suave guitar riffs that guarantee the song will be a crowd-pleaser. A solid home base gives Tomlinson the confidence to venture into places he was conspicuous in before. Faith in the Future carries over very few return collaborators from his debut, with Tomlinson drafting in the talents of Fred Ball, James Vincent McMorrow, and Theo Hutchcraft of synth-pop duo Hurts, among others, to assist on writing and production. Tomlinson experiments with a more electronic sound—to greater effect this time round—on songs such as “All This Time” and “She Is Beauty We Are World Class,” which stands out as one of the record’s most intriguing moments. His drive to build on his foundations is commendable, and a promising indicator of his future as a songwriter.