Harry Styles is one of the remaining 4 members of the English-Irish band One Direction. After the band’s worldwide On The Road Again Tour ended in October of 2015, it was alleged by Us Weekly that each of the 4 members had not renewed their contracts. In February of 2016, it was confirmed that Styles had left the group’s management and intended to embark on a solo career journey. In June of the same year, he officially signed a solo recording contract with Columbia Records.
The album’s cover art and name, self-titled Harry Styles, was released on March 21st in 2017 on Styles’ Instagram and Twitter.
The first song released off the album was ‘Sign of The Times’. In my opinion, it was a bold choice. He’d come from a boy band, pop background and his first single off his debut album were a powerful ballad that pulled and prodded at you till you cried. It starts off slow and almost cautionary, but towards the end, it’s all desperate howls that hurt your heart.
While it was the first song released, it is not the first song on the album. ‘Meet Me In The Hallway’ is a song about being still in love with someone who left you and having hope that they would someday come back to you. Styles somehow manages to make a song feel fragile, like the notes themselves could break. ‘Carolina’ is zesty and fun. It’s flirty and a bit racy, a swinging jam. ‘Two Ghosts’ allegedly references Styles’ ex-flame, Taylor Swift, with lyrics like “Same lips red, same eyes blue”, but there are no other such references to his personal life and the album manages to steer clear of bashing any exes, while still seeming to allow the listener to peek into Styles’ life.
‘Sweet Creature’ has been said to be influenced by the Beatles. It tells the story of a couple who always fight but know they belong with each other no matter what. Kind of melancholy but it lights a fire in you to hold on to those you love, through thick and thin. ‘Only Angel’ has intense rock vibes. It leads with a deceptively slow intro that eventually slams you with a phenomenal guitar-hook. Definitely a song for a rock star. It’s one of my personal favourites. This is followed by ‘Kiwi’ which sounds like old school rock to me (influenced by Wolfmother, says the internet) and is another fun song to rock out to. Harry’s throaty singing flirts with the edge of indecency, perfect for songs like these two.
‘Ever Since New York’ is a crooning, soft guitar melody. Has an alternative-country feel to it. ‘Woman’ starts with an endearing snippet of Styles’ conversation with his guitarist Mitch Rowland about his Netflix binges and kind of has the same upbeat feel of ‘Only Angel’.
The last song, ‘From The Dining Room Table’, is a shockingly honest and raw confession of a song. The way it’s been recorded makes it feel like Styles is whispering his secrets into your ear. It’s intimate in a different way than the other songs on this album and truly showcases Styles’ potential as a singer and songwriter.
Overall, I truly enjoyed this album. It was a very pleasantly surprising album from the former boy-band-member. It paints his singing ability and his songwriting talent in the best light. A true masterpiece, I highly recommend giving it a listen.