As the world awaited the release of Harry Styles debut solo album, Amelia Barker attended an exclusive First Listen Album Playback at Sony Music Entertainment HQ, in London.

Harry Styles Album Review

WHEN you’re a member of a globally successful boy band such as One Direction, releasing your first solo effort is always going to be a daunting and curious challenge.

You need to straddle the line between not alienating your army of fans while trying to prove that musically you’ve got something credible and new to offer.

And Harry Styles has risen well to that challenge with his eponymous first album. The 40-minute, 10 track album delivers a more sophisticated sound, proving Harry is eager to show he’s grown up and graduated from his boy band roots.

 

As part of that rites of passage, Harry appears to offer up a glimpse into his mature musical tastes – like a flick through his personal record collection.

In there is everything from Bowie (Sign of The Times and Meet Me In The Hallway), Rolling Stones (Only Angel), Beatles (Sweet Creature), early 1970s Elton John (Woman), Led Zeppelin (Ever Since New York) and a dash of Arctic Monkeys (Kiwi).

Lyrically too, the album carries the stamp of musical adulthood with lines such as “woke up alone in this hotel room, played with myself, where are you?” (From The Dining Table), “It’s New York, baby, always jacked up whole tunnels, foreign noses always backed up” (Kiwi) and  “I just left the bedroom, give me some morphine” (Meet Me In The Hallway).

Meet Me in the Hallway, complete with sitar, and From the Dining Table, are harmonic highlights of this album, setting the ambient laid back vibe and acting as bookends to the eclectic mix of tracks.

Sign of The Times, Harry’s first single, sits well here, offering ‘1D’ fans an early hint of the new direction this album was going to take, while acoustic country-tinged ballad Two Ghosts allegedly tips a nod to Harry’s past – rumoured to be about Styles’ relationship with singer songwriter Taylor Swift.

 While the more cynical listener could easily sit back and sneer, accusing Harry of surrounding himself with an army of LA professional producers and songwriters to create a manufactured, box-ticking new sound, it’s clear that a lot of time and effort has gone into this album.

 And by and large, it works.

This diverse album is filled with melodious, melancholic tunes that may be retro-rooted but prove that Styles has his eye firmly focused on the future and a new solo career.

Amelia Barker

TRACKLIST

Meet Me in the Hallway

Sign of the Times

Carolina

Two Ghosts

Sweet Creature

Only Angel

Kiwi

Ever Since New York

Woman

From the Dining Table