Harry Styles – ‘Harry Styles’ – Album Review

I wasn’t planning on doing a review of this album until my daughter asked if I was doing a review.  It made me think that maybe she wanted me to do a review, so after numerous listens of the album, here is my review.

Before I listened to the album, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I know what I hoped to hear and that was an album that was nothing like One Direction, his former band.  The Harry Styles solo album needed to show creativity and give us a different look than what we have seen before.  The pressure for him to deliver is huge.  I know I didn’t care for Zayn’s album (although “Pillowtalk” was an amazing song) so I was hoping this didn’t end up giving me a similar feeling.

Gladly, I wasn’t disappointed.  I was actually pleasantly surprised.  Harry delivered an album of very diverse songs yet they seemed to be cohesive at the same time.  Sonically, the album is pure British.  It has a lot of British musical influences and stylings.  I hear the essences of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis and even Robbie Williams.  And looking at the songwriting credits, I see Harry has his hand in all the songs which is a good thing…just how much of the writing he did is unknown.

The album leans to a more softer, ballad style songs including the opening track “Meet Me In the Hallway” and the first single “Sign of the Times”.  When I heard this song, I knew Harry was trying to break away from the One Direction image.  Lyrically he brings a maturity to the song and Harry’s vocals show plenty of emotion to make the song impactful.  Luckily though, the first single isn’t actually the best song on the album.  “Meet in the Hallway” opens the album, but it is an overall strange opening.  I never really connected to it and had me a little worried about the overall album…but thankfully that fear didn’t last long.

Two other ballads, “Two Ghosts” and “Ever Since New York”, are in the more traditional since of a ballad.  “Two Ghosts” is more catchy and one easier to sing along with. It is the more memorable of the two.  In fact, it came on in the car and the whole family was singing along with it if that is any indication of the likability of the song.  “Ever Since New York” is a little slower paced, but I find the tone to be nice and overall a smooth elegant song.

Yet two other ballads were simply Harry Styles and a guitar.  Both “Sweet Creature” and “From the Dining Table” delivered very different songs.  “Sweet Creatures” is a more typical ballad and is quite nice.  “From the Dining Table” is unique to say the least. No real chorus or typical structure.  At times, I like it, but sometimes it rambles on at too slow a pace and loses me.

Harry also likes to show his rock star ambitions with the two stellar songs “Only Angel” and “Kiwi”.  Two of my favorite songs on the album. “Only Angel” slowly builds with a classical, almost operatic musical styling before it climaxes into heavy, upbeat sound that reminded me of some Oasis’ songs with the guitar sound or even the Stones.  “Kiwi” has an old school rock sound with punchy lyric phrasing that grabbed my attention and made me hit repeat a few times.

A couple quirky songs on the album were “Carolina” and “Woman”.  “Carolina” is upbeat and one loved by my daughter.  For that reason alone, I will have to make it a kepper. “Woman” has a whole Elton John thing going on with the piano and “la, la, la, la” parts of the song.  I didn’t like it at first, but love it now.

One problem I had with the album was the album cover.  A picture of Harry’s back while sitting in a bathtub filled with pink water.  Huh???  Maybe I need to be a teen girl to get this, but I don’t.  Probably one of the worst album covers of the year so far.  If you want to see what Billboard says about the album cover, click BILLBOARD.

Track Listing:

  1. “Meet Me in the Hallway” – Delete
  2. “Sign of the Times” – Keeper
  3. “Carolina” – Keeper
  4. “Two Ghosts” – Keeper
  5. “Sweet Creature” – Keeper
  6. “Only Angel” – Keeper
  7. “Kiwi” – Keeper
  8. “Ever Since New York” – Keeper
  9. “Woman” – Keeper
  10. “From the Dining Table” – Delete

8 keepers out 10 songs – 80% (4 out 5 stars)  The Harry Styles debut album is much better than I would have imagined.  He didn’t go the safe route and took a chance with his songs.  Most of them work.  I loved the British sound of the album and that he was not going for a pure Top 40 hit list.  He is still trying to find where he wants to go with this sound, but I would say he is off to a good start in trying to find it.  So far, the best music to come from one of the members of One Direction.

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