On May 12, Harry Styles of One Direction fame released one of the most hotly anticipated albums of the year. His self-titled 10-track album is his first solo work and his first release since One Direction’s final album in November 2015.
First things first – this album is good, actually good. It’s so good that Harry Styles’ voice isn’t all that important. Sometimes you listen to a song because the singer is famous, and I’m sure that’s how many listeners approached this album, but it’s the sheer beauty of the music and not the man behind it that overwhelms the listener.
Oftentimes when a new artist comes out with a new album, the most exciting thing about the music is the potential behind it, pointing to truly exceptional music in the future. With Styles’ album, the exceptional content is already there. The lyrics and music are complex, but gives a little bit to a variety of listeners. Styles is given a co-writing credit on all 10 songs, and this album delivers a lot from such a young artist.
You’ve probably heard the album’s single “Sign of the Times,” and while the chorus can get repetitive, the strength in Styles’ vocals continues throughout the album.
A lot of these songs have heavy rock influences.
“Kiwi” and “Only Angel” could either be from 2017 or 1987 and yet both songs appeal to a modern listener. “Only Angel” has a lyrical intro that’s too long and doesn’t really match the heavy guitar and drums throughout the rest of the song, but that might be the only drawback of this album. Even if you aren’t the biggest rock fan, Styles doesn’t allow his homages to arena rock to overwhelm. He’s taken inspiration from other music styles to create something new and exciting.
Alongside the rock ballads are several slower, chorus-driven songs that show the biggest break from the music he created with One Direction.
“Meet Me in the Hallway” is a slow burn of a song with vocals that flow like a river with a guitar accompaniment. The meaning behind his words isn’t the clearest, but they’re so beautiful the sound is enough for me.
“From the Dining Table” has a brief but brilliant harmony that had me listening to it over and over. He tells a former love that “even my phone misses your call.” Simple, universal sentiments like that are the key to this album. Yes, Harry Styles has been in the limelight since he was 16 years old, and yes, the women he’s writing about might be singers, actresses and models, but the actual lyrics share the same sentiments as any heartbreak.
In the song “Two Ghosts,” whether or not it is about Taylor Swift (it totally is), his emotions are the same as anyone realizing a relationship has changed. The song chronicles two people realizing how they’ve changed over time, that they’re really “not who we used to be … just two ghosts trying to remember how it feels to have a heartbeat.”
Styles and his team have written a phenomenal album. Truly every single song might not be your favorite, but they all bring something new to the table. I listened to this album on repeat during my seven hour drive home for summer break. It didn’t get old – in fact with each new listen, I think I liked it a little bit more.
Styles, at the age of 23, after an almost two year hiatus from music, has given the world a well-rounded and beautiful first solo album. I tried to think of a good One Direction pun to end this article with, but all I can say is listen to these songs, buy this album and let Harry Styles’ new direction of music wash over you.