Ireland lost its mind over Harry Styles last week when he rocked out at Slane, but former One Direction bandmate Niall Horan, 29, has also maintained a massive global fan base that's set to grow thanks to the radio-friendly new pop tunes on his just released album "The Show."

Part of it is all down to timing. Horan's second album "Heartbreak Weather" came out in early March 2020, just as the pandemic lockdowns were forcing everyone indoors. That meant that the Mullingar raised singer-songwriter's promotional tour was indefinitely canceled, losing him momentum to push it.

Facing facts, he did the smart thing and went home to Ireland to rest up and regroup - the first real chance he had to sit down and think since he broke through as a member of One Direction back in the early 2010s. 

“I was like, okay, I don't think we're going anywhere for a while, I'll sit still and take this as still time for the first time,” he told the press recently.

But then inspiration struck. He sat down at the piano in his old house in Co Westmeath and began playing. 

“The first line I wrote was 'Life is like a board game some of the time,'" he said, referencing the album's title track and possibly most heartfelt song. Standing in the spotlight for years has taught him a thing or two about superstardom and its shortcomings as well as delights. 

After he wrote it, he knew that a third album was in the offing: “I felt like, 'Right, we're away, we're out the gates,” he said.

There's no denying it. "The Show" is easily his most naked album and because of that, it's also his best. 

“It's the most emotional record I've made,” he added, speaking of the 10-song collection that has a confessional quality and breezy, 1980's heart-on-your-sleeve directness.

Put it down to the pandemic, but also to the unexpected months of calm and reflection that came with them. “I'd had this massive period of reflection looking into the future a bit,” he told the press, “looking left and right more than I'd ever done.” On "The Show," that reflection makes itself clear on every track.

Harry Styles finally has some serious competition coming for him this summer.

"The Show" is now available for download everywhere, including Apple Music and Spotify: