Harry Styles’ self-titled, debut album combines an old-school rock sound with clever lyrics that do not fail to get stuck in the listener’s head. The album is quite a departure from One Direction’s style of music, and Styles’ vocals soar on these new tracks that showcase an edgier and more mature side of the artist. When listening to “Harry Styles,” it is easy to believe that Styles was made to sing these types of songs, destined to be a rockstar rather than a popstar. Though each song on the album is unique and should not be passed over, here are four songs that stand out in terms of story, lyrics and delivery.
Sign of the Times
“Sign of the Times” is the lead single from the album, and Styles’ vocal ability is showcased beautifully on this track. Starting with haunting piano chords and his raw voice, it builds into angelic falsetto in the pre-chorus and, later, to heavier drums and guitar in the hook. The best thing about this song, as with many others on the album, is how much emotion Styles puts into every line. The slight break in his voice in the first pre-chorus, his deep raspiness and ability to reach for high notes are just a few things that make this song stand out. You can hear the twinge of sadness as he croons “We never learn, we been here before,” and the raw desperation when he belts out, “We got to get away, we got to get away.”
Another emotion-filled track, “Two Ghosts” tells the story of a couple that has grown apart, becoming ghosts of what they once were. This song has a more country vibe, showing that Styles is not afraid to delve into other genres. Although the song does not specify who it is about, the listener gets the sense of a lost romance, as Styles reflects on qualities of his past lover – “Same lips red, same eyes blue.” As he progresses into singing how the “Moon dances over your good side,” longing and nostalgia become clear themes. The instrumental is simple — mainly a strumming guitar — and the simplicity allows his voice to become the main feature. “Two Ghosts” has a chorus that sounds fresh every time it is repeated, and listeners may have a hard time getting the hook out of their heads.
Despite the title, “Kiwi” is about a sweet girl rather than the fruit. Styles belts out about how she drives him crazy and how she tells him “I'm having your baby, it's none of your business.” The song’s vocal effect causes Styles’ voice to sound like it is coming from a microphone’s live feed. Accompanied by shouts and other vocal effects, this song takes on a playful tone – something that can easily accompany headbanging and carefree dancing. Witty lyrics and an electric guitar lend to the track’s fun and fast-paced energy.
From the Dining Table
In “From the Dining Table,” Styles’ voice takes on a softer tone as he sings about missing his lover and wishing for a chance to speak to her again. “Even my phone misses your call,” is just one of the clever lines that proves Styles’ ability as a songwriter. Regarding the instrumentals, acoustic guitar is accompanied by the cello, viola and violin. The string instruments build in the bridge and are accompanied by Styles’ layered vocals and harmonies. Haunting and heart-wrenching, “From the Dining Table” ends the album on a fulfilling note.