It was released via his own Erskine Records alongside Columbia Records. It was co-produced by Jeff Bhasker, Alex Salibian, Tyler Johnson and Kid Harpoon, with Jeff Bhasker best known for producing and writing on records like Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox and Ed Sheeran’s X.
With this being Harry Styles and considering his previous work with One Direction, you might have been expecting it to be more along the same lines, but that’s not case as Harry Styles has produced a solid 70’s inspired rock album. His inspiration comes from the likes of the late David Bowie and The Beatles, to mention a couple, but with more of a modern twist.
The album starts with the song “Meet Me In The Hallway“, with a nice acoustic guitar and a cool delay effect in the background, which has a David Bowie sound to it. Harry Styles comes in with his delayed vocal and really set the mood and definitely catches you off-guard with the style he going for.
Hi follows a similar layout with “Sign Of The Times“, which was the first single that was released from the album. With the piano melody, delay vocal and the line “Just stop the crying, It’s the sign of the times“, this song will get stuck in your head.
What makes this song stand out, is the way it builds to show Harry’s different harmony ranges and it certainly works, this can be heard best in the bridge and on the last chorus.
Harry changes his style with the song “Carolina“. The song has a Beatles feel to it, and it starts off with a groovy bassline with a voice in the background. This builds to a catchy as hell chorus, with the line “She a Good Girl”, and with Harry’s vocals, it really works and stand out from the pack.
“Two Ghosts” and Sweet Creature slow down the album with more acoustic based songs, with “Two Ghosts” delivering more nice vocals from Harry and instrumentation, with interesting lyrics in the chorus saying, “we are just two ghost standing in the place of you and me, just trying to remember what it like to have a heart beat“. It just makes for a really good slow rock ballad.
The same goes for “Sweet Creature” which has an nice picked melody on the guitar throughout. It has a Beatles “Blackbird” feel to it and is just a nice ballad to listen to.
“Only Angels” throws you off guard again with a lovely string and synth at the start, then it move to just a straight rock riff and an scream by Harry himself, to a fun rock track with nice ‘woohoo’ vocal refrain the chorus, that would sound great live.
But the best song, in my opinion, on the album comes with “Kiwi“, with driving guitars at the star and Harry Styles’ vocals really giving the energy. This leads chorus line “Having your baby, it’s none of your business” really hits home. Everything about this song is just fun, and really shows off Harry’s ability as a singer and songwriter.
“Ever Since New York” has some nice moments throughout. Overall it is a nice slow song with nice harmony in the chorus, with a weirdly U2 feel to it, while “Women” is a more piano based song and more straightforward, but is the only track that feels added one.
The album ends with “From The Dining Table” a nice striped back slow picky guitar ballad with slow vocals by Harry, as a lush string selection in the bridge caps of a surprisingly enjoyable album.
Overall, this album surprised me a lot with the direction it went in, and Harry Styles has produced a solid pop rock album, and I look forward to seeing where he goes next. For a debut album, Harry Styles is solid, it makes for a great listen, and will change our opinion on Styles.
A quote from Rick Pearson’s review of the album in the Evening Standard sums up what I think of this album when he said ‘this album won’t change your life — but it might change your opinion of Styles”. Purchase Harry Styles debut album on iTunes here.
Words by Stuart Irvine