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Harry Styles Shines in First Solo Album

hstyles.co.uk

Story by Mary Ford, Arts Editor

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Harry Styles, the shining star of the now-disbanded teeny-bopper group One Direction, has released the solo album we always knew, but never expected he would. “Harry Styles” is a self-titled homage to decades past, filled with hard rock and 70s ballads that my dad might not flip the radio dial on.

The album reveals a deeper, developing voice and tone to the British crooner. It doesn’t resemble the Styles of One Direction, but a Styles that has been preserved under the surface of arena stadium concerts and teen magazine poster pin-ups, breaking free and exploring what he can do sans suffocating limelight boundaries. We always knew he was the soulful, rock and roll type, didn’t we?

In a music market full of synthesizers, electronic beats, and auto-tune, the songs we hear on the pop charts today all seem to be blending together into a big boiling pot of shallow falsities and processed lyrics. Even the pop singles which might qualify as “soulful,” which really nowadays is just a word for lyrics put to slower beats, seem saccharine. Styles’s album acknowledges that standard and pushes past it, escaping through playing on a rock and roll past that existed without all that ‘cheating.’

Within this album, I hear The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan in the melodies, the lyrics, and instruments of the album. Styles actually recorded the album in the famous Abbey Road studio, and it seemed like the magical musical presence of that place, the leftover juju from what I consider the most powerful music group of the twentieth century, has rubbed off on the album.

Styles has combined snippets of hard rock, slow grooves, and guitar-led poetical lyrics and found the secret to creating something alive, a Frankenstein not abandoned by its master and allowed to thrive. Occasionally, the lyrics show a glimmer of the trivial, a glance back into the years of early One Direction. That contention might be unfair, however, because even my indie, rap, oldie loving self, could vibe to the later releases from the teeny-bopper band. Don’t get me wrong, I, a music-snob raised under the watchful eye of a father obsessed with Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead, would never be caught anywhere near a One Direction concert. My pretentious standards must be upheld.

Still, there are real live instruments on this album, instruments I can feel, I can hear, I can breathe, and it makes me so excited. Styles could have gone anywhere with this album, but he decided to go in a direction that was him. This is not a compilation of 10 or 15 singles to throw up like darts onto the Top 40 charts, hoping one sticks. This album breathes life and personality. Nevertheless, Styles’s first single off the album, called “Sign of the Times” has done pretty well for itself, with 87 million plays on Spotify and a solid number 14 spot on the Billboard Top 40 charts.

I hope that the stigma that follows many pop artists as they branch out isn’t too strong to deter the strong praise that Styles should receive for a beautifully crafted first album. I believe the celebrity this album receives will not just be from Styles’s adoring One Direction fans, but from those who shun pop radio stations as well.

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One Response to “Harry Styles Shines in First Solo Album”

  1. Amber Browe on May 20th, 2017 6:48 am

    You are Right on I really like the Album!

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Harry Styles Shines in First Solo Album