Harry Styles has had no trouble in finding his feet following One Direction’s “hiatus”, and has already been declared the “Justin Timberlake of his time”. He’s been a very busy boy in the last couple of years, he will make his acting debut in the World War II epic Dunkirk this summer, but he’s also found the time to write and record his debut album, Harry Styles.
The ever-talented 23-year-old has seemingly been all that anyone is willing to talk about since he announced the record last month, with One Direction fans crawling out of hibernation to support him but also a wider audience taking an interest as well. His first track, the theatrical ‘Sign Of The Times’, showed that Styles was looking to cut any ties to the bubblegum pop that originally forged him. A second, acoustic song later saw its release, entitled ‘Sweet Creature’ and showcases a softer side of the singer. During promotional live performances the singer also unveiled ‘Ever Since New York’, another gentle offering which had the public abuzz as they wondered how the rest of the album would sound.
The album actually opens with ‘Meet Me In The Hallway’, a very vintage-sounding offering that immediately exhibits where Styles’ influences lie. It’s been no secret that he’s a big fan of The Rolling Stones and other similar artists, and many have compared Styles’ new music to the likes of Aerosmith and ZZ Top. This album may be slightly watered down in the rock department since it’s target audience is likely going to be the teenage girls who fervently supported him in his boyband days, but it’s still Styles’ most brilliant attempt at cutting his teeth on the rock scene.
‘Carolina’ is the one that has shock factor if any, incorporating more explicit lyrics as Styles tells the tale of how he pursued a particularly promiscuous American woman. It’s worlds away from the squeaky clean image he’s tried to maintain in his earlier days, but it’s risks like this one that have already made this album one of critical acclaim. ‘Two Ghosts’ is far more emotional in comparison, and has seen Styles teased mercilessly (mostly at the hands of BBC Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw) over how the track was penned about his ex-girlfriend Taylor Swift. Regardless of it’s true meaning, the song is beautifully written and presents Styles as the hopeless romantic fans know him to be.
Harry Styles truly has the makings of a rock ’n’ roll star, and ‘Only Angel’ is proof. The homage to frontmen like Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury is very apparent— it’s a huge stadium anthem that’s got very deeply planted roots in to the ostentatious rock of the 1970’s. If you want to see Styles let loose, this is definitely the go-to track.
Fans have run wild with the interpretation of ‘Kiwi’, which has very mystifying lyrics indeed. – Oh, I think she said, “I’m having your baby, it’s none of your business.” – has had some claiming the track is about a secret love child Styles shares with a New Zealand model fling he once had. No matter what you believe, the song is incredibly sensual and sees Styles show off every extent of his talents.
The album closes with two stellar songs: ‘Woman’, a slow-burning but sultry ballad that cements Styles transition from boy to man, which is then followed by the lyrically charming, pulls-on-the-heartstrings ‘From The Dining Table’, which bears resemblance to bands like Coldplay and Snow Patrol which have also been cited as his influences. It’s one hell of a grand finale to a full-bodied album that will without a doubt top every list there is this year. It makes enough of a bang to be the perfect ending, but is also ambiguous enough to make it clear that this is only the beginning for Harry Styles.