Louis Tomlinson, “Walls” (Sony)

Louis Tomlinson has put out a debut album and that bears repeating. Not because it’s noteworthy, but just because you might forget. Listen to the album 500 times and you’ll still be surprised when you hear Louis Tomlinson’s debut album.

You have to hand it to the former One Direction member: It’s not easy to make pop songs this unforgettable. Listeners may feel like goldfish. Every time they spin the record, they’ll encounter the same bland dozen songs for what seems like the first time. Hey, did you know Louis Tomlinson dropped an album?

It’s not as embarrassing as Liam Payne’s debut, but it’s far from the glittering heights of Harry Styles. Tomlinson’s “Walls” is just there, unoffensive and uneventful. He’s made the perfect soundtrack for sock shopping at the Gap.

Tomlinson has an appealing voice and a hand in writing every song, but this is an album your mother will likely like a lot more than you. Or your grandmother.

“Kill My Mind” is Tomlinson at his most hard rock, a vanilla pop star trying an Oasis pose. “Two of Us” is a cynically manufactured ballad about his late mother with not an ounce of honesty. The title track is nice but it’s overproduced, as if adding a layer of strings could give it more heft. “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” sounds like an 1D reject. The whole album seems like it was yanked from mothballs, where it was abandoned in the 1990s. It reeks of lite Stone Roses.

We dare you to listen to “Habit” and recall anything about it 10 minutes later. We dare you to actually finish “Perfect Now,” a treacly ode catering to swooning fans who feel self-confident in their jeans. “I guess some queens don’t need a crown,” he sings.

The problem may be that Tomlinson has nothing to say, no real pain to communicate, no truths gleaned from a life in the spotlight. His songs are set in clubs and European capitals and in bedrooms where he’s artfully pining. His lyrics are lazy; he rhymes “defenseless” with “fences.” On the Oasis-sounding “We Made It,” he sings “I’m always underrated.” Actually, now he’s proven to be the opposite — overrated.

Hey, did you know Louis Tomlinson dropped an album?


Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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