Harry Styles’ debut, self-titled album hits with a mix of brit pop rock bops and somber, melancholy melodies.
Styles starts his album off with an acoustic “Meet Me in the Hallway,” about wanting more from a relationship. With an acoustic guitar, atmospheric quirky background sounds, and high reverbed vocals in the verses, the tone of the song has a cool way to match its message of something seemingly distant that you long for. “Sign of the Times” is a sad, dreary and overly slow track. The song focuses on piano, drums, and Styles’ voice, which creates an even more intense emotional sensation about trying to get to somewhere better, and to “Remember everything will be alright.” In the next song, “Carolina,” Styles kicks up the rock aspect, and his voice works so well with it. The song works as a hint of what’s to come, but feels a bit out of place surrounded by slower songs. A bit of a country influence can be heard on “Two Ghosts,” while a bit more of a Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” influence can be heard. “Only Angel” and “Kiwi” bring back that rock vibe heard on “Carolina.” I love it. I honestly would love a full length with that sound, between Styles’ rough vocals, screams, and rock-esque songwriting style (namely “She worked her way through a cheap pack of cigarettes, Hard liquor mixed with a bit of intellect”), he’s a perfect candidate for a straight-out rock album. The last three songs take the record to a slower step once again. “Woman” introduces odd duck sounds that just feel out of place, along with the calling out of “woman!” which makes it feel like the song is begging to be a rock song, but is too slow for it to work. In all, I wish Styles followed the likes of “Carolina,” “Only Angel,” and “Kiwi” more, I think it suits his voice rather well. The album also felt a bit mixed up, with the majority of it being slow, sad songs, but had a couple rock songs seemingly thrown carelessly into the mix.
Overall: The slow songs, over half the album, are a bit too slow, but goddamn, those rock songs really rock.
Review by Shane Haley