Harry Styles began his music career as one of the five members of British pop group One Direction, a group that were without question one of the most popular acts of our generation. Massive hits such as ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ and ‘Best Song Ever’ made 1D global phenomenons until they announced their extended hiatus in January 2016, allowing for the members to try their hand as solo artists. Zayn Malik had relative success, Niall, Liam and Louis are starting their projects off; but the level of intrigue and excitement around borderline frontman of the group Harry Styles. His album is now out and here is my review of the self titled LP.
The first thought I had before approaching this album was that the direction he chose to go in was essential. Even if it wasn’t the best album of last year, Zayn Malik went down his own avenue of music and created a sound he’s always wanted to make. Harry has done exactly this here but instead of the R&B moody vibes of Zayn, he has elected for a stripped back acoustic sound alongside some classic ‘dad rock’ riffs. The tracks ‘Carolina’ and ‘Only Angel’ are some of my favourites on the album despite being accused of sounding like something you’d hear on a classic rock compilation. The reason I like these so much is the energy Harry brings to the track, with screams and shouts of passion demonstrating his rock star attitude.
The singles were also very good songs that grew on me massively. Upon my first listen of ‘Sign Of The Times’ I was frustrated by it, as Harry sounded like he was out of his depth, trying to dabble in something that he wasn’t capable of. The more I’ve listened to it, however, I’ve come to terms with what it actually is; plus it sounds far better surrounded by the album’s concept. The same sort of thing applied with ‘Sweet Creature’. Despite it’s simplistic acoustic sound, there’s an atmosphere of true emotion and heart which I thoroughly enjoy and have loved more and more with each listen.
I’m not crazy about the whole album, however. I just knew I wouldn’t like ‘Kiwi’ from the second I saw the title, it sounds pretentious and an attempt to be too conceptually creative, ‘Ever Since New York’ is somewhat underwhelming too. There are times that I feel a bit led astray by this album too as he switches the styles of tracks a bit too frequently for my liking and there are moments it was a tad rough around the edges. With that being said, there’s far more good than there is bad on here.
Best Three Songs: Carolina, Only Angel, Sweet Creature
Worst Three Songs: Kiwi, From The Dining Table, Ever Since New York
I am pleasantly surprised by this album. Harry has done exactly what he needed to do and by doing so increased his already likeable persona and figure in today’s culture. His musical influences have been demonstrated very efficiently throughout the project and these songs give us a personal insight into Harry’s thoughts and emotions. As a debut project this is very mature and a good start to what I am predicting to be a long and prosperous career for the 21st century heartthrob. With that being said it’s not perfect and there are still issues that need to be addressed before he reaches his full potential, but the groundwork is there and he has plenty of time on his side.