One of the most anticipated albums of the year if not ever is here. Harry Styles, frontman of one of the most successful boybands of all time, has finally released his debut solo effort.The album starts a little lacklustre with the haunting “Meet Me in the Hallway”, which seems to try a little bit hard to be taken seriously. However, Styles immediately corrects course with “Sign of the Times” and the fantastic “Carolina” both of which match the energy of One Direction’s best tracks but are much more ambitious and better delivered in their execution.
Things slow back down then with one of the albums highlights “Two Ghosts”. Written solely by Styles, he manages to accomplish what he intended with the opening track, masterfully creating a stunning guitar led ballad about a relationship’s ups and downs. Speculation says this one is about Styles’ fling with Taylor Swift and if so, Styles matches her song writing fabulously here.
The LP dips again with “Sweet Creature” which, while pretty, doesn’t really do much for the album or Styles’ other than fill a spot on the track list. The second standout comes in “Only Angel” where Styles’ goes full force for the 70’s rock vibe and shows his immense talent one again. The track’s energy and overall production is nothing short than brilliant and proves that despite slight missteps, Styles is to be taken seriously. He keeps the Rolling Stones-tempo going on “Kiwi”, going full blown rock star, and yelling “I’m having your baby” over the pounding instrumental. Not the most sophisticated in terms of lyricism, the tempo and vocal performance are more than enough to make up for it and result in a fantastic rock track.Things slow down for the final three tracks – “Ever Since New York”, “Woman” and “From the Dining Table”. The first is a beautiful country-rock ballad which is a little forgettable if it weren’t for Style’s vocal performance. Next is “Woman” which is the album’s weirdest track. It is ambitious and unique but falls flat as its repetitiveness lets it down significantly, compared to the other rock efforts Styles managed to produce here. The album’s closer, “From the Dining Table”, is a very subdued folksy track which fails to match the brilliance of “Two Ghosts” but comes closer than “Meet Me in the Hallway” and closes out the roller-coaster of sounds and emotions that is Styles’ debut. As a whole, it’s a mixed bag, cohesive and not at the same time, but over-all a strong debut that sets him apart in the world of music we live in. The album, if anything, proves that while he’s not entirely there yet, when Styles’ is good, he is damn good.