Harry Styles wrapped his solo album with this toned-down, somber moment, and while it would seem to serve as a perfectly capable closer, the track itself isn’t much to listen to. Is it bad? No, of course not, but if you’re tired by the end of the ninth track on Harry Styles, feel free to stop where you are and move on.
Interestingly enough, the song the pop singer chose to open his first record on his own is one of the least exciting of the bunch. The mostly acoustic cut tells the listener what direction he went in with his album, but it doesn’t hint as to how good so many of the other tracks are.
Smack dab in the middle of Harry Styles comes “Only Angel,” which implores the listener to clap along and sing plenty of “woo-hoos” when the star’s backup vocalists do so, and while those elements add a healthy dose of fun, they’re not enough to make “Only Angel” one of the cooler tunes on the full-length.
The sexiest of the 10 tunes on the former One Direction member’s self-titled record, “Woman” kicks off with a funny voice over of someone asking if they should search for romantic comedies on Netflix, a clear nod to “Netflix and chill,” which has become so popular with “the kids” these days. The 70’s sex appeal emphasized here is obvious, and while it does stand out from the rest, it’s still not one of the best.
One of two songs on Harry Styles to name-check the Big Apple, “Ever Since New York” is bigger and smoother than many other tricks on the album in almost every regard. The vocals, the songwriting, and the ultra-clean production make this a delightful treat, and while it still has a retro vibe, it is easy to love these days.
There are plenty of songs on Styles’ first effort out on his own that lean more towards the softer side of rock, but nothing about “Kiwi” is “soft.” The track is a high-energy rock song through and through, and from the screaming to the cocaine references to the guitar licks, the singer wasn’t afraid to take some chances on this one.
On “Two Ghosts,” which served as the second official single off the album, Styles proves how to perfectly mix pop and rock into something that’s been done before, but which is probably new to many of his most ardent fans. The track is sweet and catchy, and its subtlety is what makes it so powerful.
The all-acoustic “Sweet Creature” was the only promotional single released from Harry Styles, and it was the second piece of music shared from the title before it dropped in full. At the time, fans might have been slightly confused, as it couldn’t sound less like lead single “Sign of the Times,” but it showed the world that while he was going to rock, Styles was also planning on slowing things down for his debut.
Styles reportedly wrote this song about a woman he met on a blind date (side note: can you imagine being set up with Harry Styles on a blind date?!?), and he must have been smitten, as you can hear his enjoyment in the songwriting and his performance. When the chorus begins and especially when it begins to break down, “Carolina” really hits its stride, and it couldn’t be more fun or cooler to dance to.
It’s the first solo song Harry Styles released, and it’s the best solo song Harry Styles has released. “Sign of the Times” is an easy choice, as it’s as grand and thrilling on the one-hundredth play as it was on the first. The lead single is clearly a mashup of influences, including some of the greatest rock music has ever known, like Queen, Prince, and The Beatles. He might borrow quite a bit, but he pulls it off so well, and it’s such a fresh sound amid the many hip-hop singles and EDM bangers, the look into the past was more than welcome.
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