Louis Tomlinson : Faith in the Future
Louis Tomlinson has always felt like the scrappiest member of One Direction. While his former co-workers found specific lanes, he juggled genres, trying everything from EDM to guitar-led Oasis cosplay. His first solo album, Walls, lacked identity as a result: falling back on maudlin balladry and lager-swilling lad rock, it was forgettable and aimless.
His second solo album, Faith in the Future, comes 7 years after the end of One Direction. When he released his excellent solo debut Walls in 2020, he was admirably open about the difficulty of making an album on his own. “It took me a second to get here,” Louis told Rolling Stone. “Because there was a lot of treading water.” But this time feels different for him. As he says now, “I’m just in a more confident place.”
Faith in the Future attempts to address this. Firmly rooted in early 00s indie and festival rock, it’s more sonically assured. Tomlinson himself, however, is now lost in a sea of influences. On Bigger Than Me, a Snow Patrol-like singalong, a rumbling storm of drums threatens to overpower Tomlinson’s thin vocals, while on Face the Music, propulsive and crunching guitars provide more fuel than his affected attempt at a Gallagher snarl. Meanwhile, Out of My System pulls so heavily from early Arctic Monkeys that it begins to feel like pastiche.
Faith in the Future debuts at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales, scoring the pop star his highest-charting set yet on the list, and best sales week (37,500 sold in the U.S. in the week ending Nov. 17, according to Luminate).also bows at No. 2 on Top Current Album Sales, Independent Albums and Vinyl Albums, No. 3 on Tastemaker Albums and No. 5 on the Billboard 200.
Faith in the Future is more successful when it moves away from full-on mimicry. All This Time echoes the Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition, but is elevated by aquatic William Orbit-esque production and a sincere, understated vocal performance. Headline (available on the digital and deluxe editions) sees the breezy nostalgia of the Kooks merge with Tomlinson’s strong pop songwriting, delivering an impeccable chorus. And while the lyrics of She Is Beauty We Are World Class are terrible (“Are we me or are we you?” Tomlinson ponders), the apocalyptic rave synths and woozy reverb-heavy guitars at least gesture towards experimentation.
Faith In The Future sounds very distinct from Walls, which was focused on his Oasis-style rock songwriting. It revives the dance sound that he was exploring on his earliest solo singles, when he did collaborations with Steve Aoki and Bebe Rexha. Yet it also has pop ballads like “Chicago” and the Northern English hometown tribute “Common People.” (No relation to the classic Pulp song.) Louis took a break to speak to Rolling Stone about the new album, his love of touring, the confidence he gets from his fans, and his “break free” from One Direction.