At only 16, the United Kingdom first saw Harry Styles on The X Factor, while mogul Simon Cowell was on the search for some fresh talent and boy, did he find some!
After five years with the worldwide success that was One Direction, along with his other bandmates, Styles decided to hide away and work on his own music – without the other boys, without Simon, all alone.
Announced shortly after the release of his debut solo single, “Sign of the Times”, Styles was starting to emerge from months of writing and recording to unveil his first taste of solo stardom to the whole world – as well as the eager fans who were waiting to hear from him once again.
In the wait of the album release, we had heard a small collection of tracks from Styles’ live performances; as well as single “Sign of the Times”, he has also performed new songs such as “Carolina” and “Ever Since New York”, all of which feature on the album.
For the last few years, rumours sparked about Styles’ solo career with a source here and a “friend” there saying he was hard at work and you know what? Now we have proof that he has spent his time wisely since One Direction announced their hiatus. No doubt you are going to hear his name and see his face everywhere even more now – but think twice before switching the channels.
His self-titled release is a new era of Harry Styles. Let’s give it a try with him.
He has already got a number one song already, after all.
Styles’ new album is full of different yet similar tracks, and every single one has had contribution from Styles himself. Every single song tells a story, whether personal to the singer himself or telling the tale of others he has encountered or heard during his career in the music industry. I had to narrow the full ten-song track list to the three songs I felt were breakthroughs, but it wasn’t an easy task to do, as every song had highlights and standout features that made it different from every other.
One track I must highlight is “Carolina”, which Styles had previously performed live in America, in preparation for the album’s release. This song has a classic rock vibe, which recalls the mid-1960s Beatles/Rolling Stones era (if you know Harry Styles, you’ll get the Rolling Stones link). It is always interesting to hear songs that have obvious links to an artist’s inspiration, such as music they grew up hearing or music they discovered not too long ago; Styles proves that he knows this genre like the back of his hand, and from that, he has twisted and retouched it to take his own music into a new direction.
Another standout is “Kiwi”, and when you listen to the full album you can tell it’s not like the others on there. Styles had commented that “Kiwi” was the result of a spark of energy in the studio, and that shows in the track. The song is a story, telling the adventures of the stereotypical rock star, living the “rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle that we all picture (not specifically with Styles, but you know he’s most likely seen it himself). As he sings about a star meeting a mysterious woman, partaking in activities such as sipping “hard liquor mixed with a bit of intellect”, the main instrumental feature of the electric guitar makes you feel strong and powerful and make you want to get up and dance and chant along with the backing vocals. Never skip “Kiwi” on this album, never.
The final track I wanted to highlight is the closer, “From The Dining Table”. Another story of two people, but not one that ends happily, I’m afraid. The song describes a heartbroken, hopeless individual who had broken up with the girl of their dreams, and now must learn to cope with the pain and try to move on. It’s again different from most other tracks on this album, and is a soft and bittersweet conclusion to the whole list. As Styles sings of the idea that “comfortable silence is so overrated”, it can bring a tear to the eye of those who have had to suffer the hurt of breaking off a relationship for one reason or another. It’s a relatable track, and one that was possibly inspired by a real-life event of Styles’ (and I am not naming names).
Altogether, again, every song was a pleasure to listen to, take in and enjoy. I narrowed it down to these three because personally, I thought they were the three that showed off Styles’ writing and storytelling skills, his musical talent away from the vocals, and of course, proving that he can move away from the upbeat boyband pop that he had been giving the public for the last few years of his career. Harry Styles, all grown up.
Most fans, celebrity and non-celebrity, had high hopes for this album and it’s safe to say it reached those hopes easily.
Styles has said his solo work was inspired by him wanting to prove something to himself – probably that he had the talent to do it all alone – and I hope you’ve proved whatever you wanted to. If you’re reading this, by any small small chance, you have made it. You’ve done what not a lot of ex-band members can: prove you are just as strong on your own two feet as you are among others.
Is it too soon to hope for more new music? I’m sorry but I can’t wait to hear more!