One of the biggest surprises in music this year was the sonic direction Harry Styles took on his debut self-titled album. As one of the lead singers in the most successful boyband in decades, going in a pop direction would seem to be the obvious choice. Not only would this please his current fans, but could have also shown an edgier, more mature sound from him (almost like former bandmate Zayn Malik). However, Harry shocked all of us when he dropped the record’s lead single ‘Sign Of The Times’. Not only does the star stray from the incredibly popular direction pop music is experiencing at the moment, but he decided to dabble in a genre that has made a massive impact on his life – old-school soft rock.
I think it’s such a brave move and a massive risk to take completely change the sound your fans are used to but an incredible artistic feeling to create music that speaks to you for a change.
The sound of the album is an amalgamation of various influences in the 70s. The 10-track album has the perfect mix of ballads and more energetic performances which showcase all the different aspects of the genre Harry has fallen in love with. The album is diverse and Harry explores every aspect of the genre that identifies with him – something that has made the album pleasurable to listen to.
As one of the lead singers of One Direction, it’s no surprise that Harry delivers his strongest vocal performance to date on this album. With the way these songs are composed, Harry is able to show off his vocal in a way performing with the band didn’t allow. The album clearly means a lot to Harry. Alongside some fantastic songwriting, Harry gives an incredibly emotional performance. From belting it out on tracks like ‘Only Angel’ and ‘Kiwi’ to toning it down on tracks like ‘Sweet Creature’ and ‘From The Dining Table’, the star ensures the listener can hear his emotion loud and clear and it’s something that sets him apart from his peers. Each track is reminiscent of a special part of his life and Harry has really immersed himself into this album. He’s an open book here and it’s exceptional to see.
Sure, the album has its flaws. That’s undeniable. However, for someone to push himself so far out of the comfort zone and still deliver such a beautifully put together album speaks volumes. The album shows that Harry isn’t your ordinary pop star. There is so much more to him and he’s taking his fans on a musical journey with him. Harry Styles has really impressed me with this collection of songs.
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