Harry Styles eponymous debut is a “Sign of the Times” for the music world


"Harry Styles" album art courtesy of tidal.com

Ever since the depressing hiatus of popular boy band One Direction, the members’ solo projects have made numerous splashes. However, none have had the magnitude of the tidal wave induced by Harry Styles when he announced the release of “Harry Styles” on May 12. His solo debut is a marked change in direction from his earlier pop work. Styles takes on the personas of his inspirations, the greats like David Bowie and Pink Floyd, while making them his own. In doing so, he released the album that could bring rock music back to the forefront of the popular mindset.

When “Sign of the Times” was released on April 7, the excitement of the general populace was beyond containment. This song, the lead single, was well-received despite commentary in Styles’s stylistic change. The song, which he revealed is about a mother who will die during childbirth, has drawn comparison to Queen and David Bowie. “Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times,” is the mother’s politically charged goodbye to her unborn child. At almost six minutes in length, the song has still garnered much airplay, not usually seen from songs of this style or length.

At halfway through the album, a turning point is met with “Only Angel,” which marks an uptick of the ferocious drive of the music. It takes an old rock stereotype of a bad girl who Styles reflects he “Couldn’t take / home to mother in a skirt that short / But I think that’s what I like about it.” The songs “ooh’s” are in line with classic KISS music, and the hard guitar will energize legions of fans to sing along.

Another song with the drive and caliber of “Only Angel” is “Kiwi,” possibly the hardest rocking song on the album. It centers around a girl calling out to Styles that she is “having…(his)… baby…but it’s none of…(his)…business.” It is a loud classic rock song that pays homage to Poison and other raunchy bands of yesteryear. It is a spectacular song that no one would expect to see in mainstream culture today.

In general, the album is one in the vein of slow 70s rock, but there are pleasing gems in the form of the louder content that is also present. All in all, it was an amazing debut. The album may have upset die-hard pop fans, but for anyone into rock of any sort, they can get “into it, into it.”