Harry Styles - The Debut We’ve Been Waiting For
It would be very easy, while listening to the self-titled debut album Harry Styles, to forget that the voice you’re hearing once belonged to the biggest boyband of their time. During his career as the resident heartthrob of One Direction, Styles was known for his idolisation of Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones and in an honest interview with Rolling Stone, following the release of his debut single, he spoke of his encounters with Stevie Nicks. When it came to musical influences, Harry's couldn’t have been much more different to his fellow band members and this shone through in the tracks he had a hand in writing for the band and continues to show in his highly anticipated solo releases.
The first single released by styles ‘Sign of the Times’ is an almost six minutes long piano ballad with a hard-to-hit falsetto pre-chorus. The ambiguous subcontext of the song paired with a bizarre music video, that involves Styles suspended above a Scottish cliffside, provided an inoffensive teaser for what was to come from the rest of the album.
After endorsements from the likes of Father John Misty and comparisons to even David Bowie (something which brought understandable criticism), there was a lot to play for upon the May 12th album release. The album itself holds a short list of only 10 tracks. Within lies a juxtaposition of ballads and pop-rock tracks
‘Two Ghosts’ is a slow retrospective that is speculated to be about Harry's short-lived romance with pop princess Taylor Swift. The Sigur Ros-Esque opening to ‘Only Angel’ becomes the most interesting part of the standard, but enjoyable rock track to follow. The other album tracks follow suit, with a clear direction in mind.
This is definitely an album in which Styles is attempting to establish a style that was perhaps lost in him through the push of factory pop music. It has songs to suit both his younger fans, keen for emotive and catchy pop songs but also the fans who grew up through One Direction, whose tastes may now be taking another direction.
Prior to his audition for the X Factor, something that happened only after his mum signed him up, High School aged Harry was a member of band White Eskimo. The pop-punk sound the band still carry suggests that Harry really is returning to his roots with this album, that could certainly be considered a coming of age piece for the 23-year-old. With an instantly sold out world tour, he is sure to continue to mature through his music and develop his style away from the platinum selling pop we are used to.
Written by Helena Bodman