Friday, 12 May 2017

Review | Harry Styles - Self-Titled

Release: 12 May 2017
Highlights: Only Angel, Kiwi, Sign of the Times

2017's most-anticipated debut album is finally here: today, former One Direction star Harry Styles dropped his ten-track self-titled debut, and naturally, the pop music world is freaking out. But does it live up to expectations?

When Styles released his first solo single, Sign of the Times, earlier this spring, rumours started swirling about an upcoming Bowie-influenced debut album. Then came that Rolling Stone cover feature by Cameron Crowe, and we (namely, I) started to get really excited for what was to come.

To be fair, I think we all expected Harry Styles' solo career, regardless of what he did, to be the most talked-about and hyped of all the One Direction boys' (sorry, lads). Whilst Styles' film debut has yet to hit the big screen, his first solo album is nothing short of a pop masterpiece.

Sitting at a brief forty minutes, the album flows easily from one gorgeous track to another. There are no let downs, no filler tracks - each crafted carefully: understandable given that the world was eagerly awaiting their arrival to store shelves and streaming libraries.

Naturally, I expected some level of cheesiness, some hint of former member of the world's biggest boyband, and yet that cliché cheesy pop was non-forthcoming. What I got instead was an album of pure magic.

It opens on a smooth, acoustic note with Meet Me In the Hallway, followed by Sign of the Times: an undeniably gorgeous, epic first single, and a superb first impression for the album. With it, Carolina brings the clear rock'n'roll influence, and a jaunty verse reminiscent of The Beatles.

Two Ghosts is the soft, sweet, lovelorn acoustic track we probably expected the most: it's a nice, slow pop song, but probably not the most exciting part of the whole album. Second single Sweet Creature follows this theme, but with a catchy chorus and folk vibe. 

The album picks up pace again with Only Angel, bringing back the 70s rock influence - closely followed by the loud, boisterous and abrasive Kiwi, the stand-out track of the album. From there, it winds back to the calm, acoustic vibe, only interrupted briefly by steady pop-rock piano jam Woman.  Finally, it closes on a pretty, soft Simon & Garfunkel-eqsue slice of acoustic pop,  From The Dining Table

Undoubtedly, there will be many a reviewer looking down their professional noses at this once Simon-Cowell-fuelled-boyband-member turned soulful-singer-songwriter, but if this record is anything to go by, surely Styles is not one to be underestimated.

Styles has knocked it out of the park with this one. I can already imagine it soundtracking many a hazy summer day yet to come: it's a perfectly solid pop/rock record, with delicious indie flavours and classic rock twists, and a magical debut for the enigmatic young star.
Ciara Pollock © . Design by FCD.