A listen to Harry Styles’ self-titled debut album gives one the sense that this intimate process was truly about the music for the 23-year-old British recording artist. The 10-track album was released on Harry’s Vevo account on YouTube on Friday 12 May – a perfect start to all of our weekends.
The songs are available to listen to for free which further exemplifying the fact that Styles couldn’t care less about the money or fame. Really, this album comes across as an emotional and stylistic playground for the singer. We’re taken through a range of moods, from the beautiful melancholy of From the Dining Table and Sign of the Times, to the upbeat romantic optimism of Carolina or the pure soul of Woman.
Expect to hear a variety of genres in this album, with a rock-core, not lacking any cohesion. What all the songs have in common is summed up nicely in Two Ghosts: “We’re not who we used to be”. Harry, previously a member of One Direction has become an idol in his own right for teenage girls everywhere. He made a passionate defence of his young fans in an in-depth interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, stating “How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future… Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie… They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.”
Still, this album is for everyone, and it’s for Harry himself. He made something he loved and presented it to the world, hoping all kinds of people will like it too. Comments on YouTube were full of praise and surprise from older people, and men saying they never expected to enjoy his music so much. Where One Direction was a heavily managed and controlled brand, it appears Styles has run with his new freedom, and made something totally honest with this record. He doesn’t pander to an audience. Amidst a storm of speculation about who the songs are about, Harry just wants it to be about the sound – that simple, gravelly, rock and roll sound he loves so much in other artists.
Harry has been upfront about the album being influenced by many greats before him, including Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Prince, Spacehog, and Coldplay. As such, the album feels like a mixture of many eras and styles. Simultaneously, it achieves an old “good-ol-days” sound, as well as something quite futuristic – a twist on the tropes of the past. This album is like a time machine, and it is sure to have us tapping our feet for quite some years to come.