Harry Styles
Harry Styles


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Stephenson USER (43 Reviews)
May 12th, 2017 | 41 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The former One Direction frontman turns out an ambitious and eclectic debut record, paying homage to his artistic influences while simultaneously providing a grab-bag of different avenues for his career to potentially follow in future.

Even those music fans most critical of today's pop music were likely taken off guard by former One Direction frontman Harry Styles's lead single from his eponymous debut record, the anthemic "Sign of the Times". Thrusting Oasis/Coldplay-esque production with some 70's Bowie-esque sensibility into a 2017 pop single was as left-field a move as the mainstream has seen in quite some time, and unsurprisingly, this combination of nostalgia and current artistic relevance led the single to a great deal of critical acclaim from older and younger music fans alike. And with Styles hinting in numerous interviews that the record throws back a lot to his artistic influences from decades past, it seemed that the teenage heartthrob had hit on a strong formula for his debut.

As a matter of fact, this throwback mentality ends up being Harry Styles's biggest weakness. It's not that the gesture isn't appreciated or that Styles doesn't do a good job of executing the material, for neither could be further from the truth. But its derivative nature highlights Harry's relative artistic immaturity at this point; the record goes in a lot of different directions, exploring a lot of different ideas, but never really honing in on one in particular. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly it's expected of a 23 year-old artist trying to find his way as a solo performer, but it definitely is the primary thing preventing this record from being truly "great" overall.

What this record does have working in its favor is the sheer passion behind it; Styles never half-asses a number on here, delivering surprisingly strong vocal performances that far outclass anything he did in 1D. It's very apparent that Harry crafted this album intricately and with great care, something shown particularly well in the crystal-clear production. The sound and overall execution is exquisite, regardless of whether Styles is performing soaring epics like the aforementioned "Sign of the Times", tender acoustic numbers like the "Blackbird" rip-off "Sweet Creature" or the warm album closer "From the Dining Table", or tracks like "Carolina" that don't like to hang around any genre for more than a few measures (seriously, this track gives off acoustic/folk, funk, Calypso, and soaring "Sign of the Times"-esque epic feels at various points; I cannot pinpoint a static genre for the life of me). Occasionally the album's flow hiccups a little bit, such as with the inclusion of the country number "Two Ghosts", but it's never such a jarring change that the album's overall feel is completely lost.

One must take Harry Styles for what it is: a debut album from a young artist attempting to tread his own musical pathway whilst paying tribute to some of his biggest musical influences in the process. When looking at it in this context, it becomes really easy to see the numerous things Harry does well here while forgiving the extremely derivative nature of many of the songs. As far as I'm concerned, it sets Styles up to have a really bright future, if only he can focus his attention onto a more singular sound. Should he be able to do this, and his career trajectory only continues to go up from here, we will all be in for a treat.



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user ratings (219)
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Kirk Bowman CONTRIBUTOR (2.5)
right smack dab in the middle of the road...

Jordan M. STAFF (3.4)
I'm still the only one who's been in love with me....

boredcore (3)
A first step in the a new direction for the boy from one direction as he tries to find his own voice...

DeaganO (3)
Harry's solo debut album is set to capture an audience different from the screaming teen girls that ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
TheLongShot
May 12th 2017


861 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely a surprise discovery for me, not a record I expected to be as good as it is.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 12th 2017


17577 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Shit I really liked the single so I might have to check it

Faraudo
May 12th 2017


3353 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is... Pretty sweet actually!!!

Digging: Grimes - Miss Anthropocene

JamesMarlon
May 12th 2017


42 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Every Since New York i swear is ripped straight from the Bends, right down to melody in the verse. That being said it's probably my favourite track.

JamesMarlon
May 12th 2017


42 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Every Since New York i swear is ripped straight from the Bends, right down to melody in the verse. That being said it's probably my favourite track.

wwf
May 12th 2017


6586 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

god I hope this doesn't result in a 60's/70's revival in pop music

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2017


3639 Comments


Sign of the times could've been good but his falsetto ruined it

wwf
May 12th 2017


6586 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

oh man about a third of the way through this I gave it a 2.5 because 'Carolina' was a great Beatles-esque song and I figured most of this would be fine but then it got so, so, sooooo much worse



'Only Angel' is just embarrassing

StickFeit
May 12th 2017


1040 Comments


Yeah, I expected this

TheLongShot
May 12th 2017


861 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"god I hope this doesn't result in a 60's/70's revival in pop music"



I kind of have a feeling it might if this album is successful (which I think it will be)

Cygnatti
May 12th 2017


33036 Comments


god I hope this doesn't result in a 60's/70's revival in pop music
that's literally the greatest era of pop music so i kinda do hope that this does happen tbh.

so much 80s peddling these days, i wouldn't mind it, especially not when "looking towards the future of pop" just sounds like "tropical" BS, most of which isn't interesting at all, or standard day electropop/synthpop/dance-pop which is just a mixed bag as its always been.


Digging: Sewerslvt - Draining Love Story

wwf
May 12th 2017


6586 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

yeah the dancehall shit is getting out of hand but still not a fan of this sound at all personally



like, I do dig some 60s/ 70s, but this is definitely slightly different

butcherboy
May 12th 2017


9464 Comments


the 80's revival is because electronic music and synth pop are back in full swing.. if a 70's revival happens, all these morons will have to learn to play actual instruments..

wwf
May 12th 2017


6586 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

wtf no they won't





not at all

DoofusWainwright
May 12th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

If this gets 10 reviews I'm ransomware-ing this site to oblivion and beyond

zakalwe
May 12th 2017


29887 Comments


Sign of the Times is a Stella tune, as in sink 8 pints of it and sing along.

DoofusWainwright
May 12th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

As in you won't remember anything about it and it makes you want to punch your woman?

wwf
May 12th 2017


6586 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

nice

zakalwe
May 12th 2017


29887 Comments


I like it, I really do. 'Tha bullets, tha bullets' nice one Eazy E.

DoofusWainwright
May 12th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'll check it, then curse you



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