It’s taken me about a week to synthesize my thoughts around “Harry Styles,” the debut album from my very favorite dude, but I finally feel like I have calmed down enough to put words on a page. I want to start by saying I am trying to make this as unbiased and as thoughtful as possible, but let’s be honest, we all know I can’t say a bad word about Harry and that’s why y’all love (or hate) me. Anyway, it would be a vast understatement to say that I wasn’t on the edge of my seat for a literal year waiting for this album, but I was a little nervous – no one knew what #SoloStyles was going to sound like, and I was really hoping it would be something I enjoyed. Harry has an interesting taste in music, so it had the potential to be anything.
The night “Sign of the Times” was released, my eyeballs literally popped open ON THEIR OWN at 2 a.m. (as farfetched as it sounds, this is legit true) to see Emily’s text and realize it was time to give Harry my first listen. Sign of the Times is SO different – different than things I typically like and different than most music out today – and I’d be lying if I said I immediately loved it upon first listen. I kind of didn’t know what I thought at first? So I went back to sleep and then, when I woke up, put it on repeat and that did the trick. The song 100% grew on me, but also helped me really appreciate Harry’s voice – it’s always been great, but you can tell he really gave himself time to rest and to work on his voice, amplifying his impressive range on his year off.
Next, it was time to wait for the album. Again, even with Sign of the Times out, I feel like the world still didn’t really know what to expect. Would it all sound like Sign of the Times? Would all of the songs be slow? Was he really playing a variety of instruments on the album? We had to wait what for what felt like EVER to find out.
My first listen of the album was exciting and emotional: after such a wait for this album, it felt unreal that I finally had it on my phone and that this would be the only time ever that I was listening to solo Harry for the first time. I felt like a proud mom, so excited to see someone who has worked so hard finally not only hit the ball, but knock it out of the dang park. There is such variety on this album that I seriously feel like there is something for everyone – I have been recommending different songs to different people who I want to give Harry a chance knowing that at least one will resonate with everyone I know. And that is something you can’t say about every album – that deserves recognition in itself.
I won’t go through every track, but there were some immediate standouts for me. I am typically drawn to upbeat songs, so right off the bat was absolutely loving Carolina, Kiwi and Only Angel. The lyrics, the beats and Harry’s freaking voice are unbelievable in these – particularly, in my opinion, Only Angel. What a total jam! That and Kiwi also painted Harry in a different light, more rock ’n’ roll and kind of bad boy-ish with a gravelly sounding voice laced over a catchy sound. CAN’T SAY I HATE IT, TBH.
Bops aside, Two Ghosts is such a standout. Not only are the lyrics excellent, but Harry sounds phenomenal – so clear and soulful. Like, this is the song that if I am trying to get someone to listen to one of Harry’s new songs, I direct them to because it is just so strong. I’m obsessed.
Overall, I genuinely love this album. I think it is 100% Harry and that is the best part about it – you can tell he put so much time, thought and effort into making this everything he is and it works. The lyrics, the high notes and falsetto, the variety, everything is just Harry through and through and that is seriously cool. To make something that represents you, knowing that it might not be a hit with everyone, takes guts and he took that risk head on.
To anyone who has not yet listened (which if you haven’t I’m surprised you made it this far in my article but that’s beside the point), when you give it a try, please give it several listens all the way through (in order, per Harry himself’s recommendation) before you write it off – I recognize that it’s different and there are even parts of it that I don’t totally love yet, but it’s a collection of truly great music that deserves a chance. Harry deserves a chance, and I hope people give it to him with this debut.