By Caroline Meister
Harry Styles. Teen heartthrob. Boybander. Indie rocker? That last one is not a term that you would likely use to describe the British megastar, at least not in the past. But with the release of his new solo (yes, my heart is breaking) album, indie rocker and Harry Styles will become synonymous with each other and no one is more surprised than me.
Although the majority of the world has accepted the fact that One Direction is over, it didn’t feel real until Harry released his debut album, Harry Styles, on May 12th. He was the first of his former bandmates to release an album, with the exception of Zayn, who I don’t really count (cough, traitor, cough). Going in, I had no idea what to expect, although I assumed the majority of the songs would take after the sound and vision of “Sign of The Times,” which was oddly reminiscent of the Beatles and the era of the 60’s. The release of this single was incredibly vital in preparing fans of One Direction for the transition of their favorite curly headed cutie.
The album is a mix of influences, but it particularly reeks of The Beatles, some early Rolling Stones, and occasionally the Beach Boys. The album does not sound like it was made in 2017; it sounds like it was made in the 1960’s. It’s such a hard 180 from One Direction’s bubble gum pop, and I can’t help but think it was done on purpose. If you’re going to cut ties, you might as well sever them. I think a bigger part of the abrupt divergence is the fact that Harry has to prove himself separately from One Direction’s reputation to be taken seriously as a solo artist.
An interesting aspect of the album is the vocals. Harry had always been the lead vocalist of One Direction, but I’ve never heard him like this. His voice is so unfiltered (probably due to the lack of auto-tune); it’s raw and raspy. This is not to mention the fact that his vocal range is actually proven to be quite impressive, ranging from the ridiculously high notes in “Sign of The Times” to mind blowing lows such as in “Meet Me In The Hallway.”
One of my favorite things about this album is the fact that it’s very consistent in regards to sound. The songs flow together very nicely and they all share a common core of folksy/indie/60’s vibes. It’s ironic because people compared the success of One Direction to Beatlemania and now the former lead singer is molding and reinventing himself to embody the sound that the Beatles popularized. Talk about full circle.
A weak spot for the album is the lyrics. They’re nothing to write home about, but that almost doesn’t matter. The shock of how different the album is makes up for the fact that it is lacking in originality as far the words go. That being said, the writing is best showcased on songs such as “Sweet Creature” and “From The Dining Table.” Conversely, the instrumentals on the album are interesting. There is hardly any modern production in regards to beats. It’s mostly guitar, electric and acoustic, with the occasional addition of strings.
My favorite songs on Harry Styles (in no particular order) are: “Meet Me In The Hallway,” “Carolina,” and “Two Ghosts.”