Heartthrob, the ever-elusive, ex-boyband member and full-time indie kid Harry Styles has delivered a solid album of Beatle-esque Rock n Roll. From the gentle psychedelia of album book-ends ‘Meet Me in the Hallway‘ and ‘From The Dining Room Table‘ to the energetic and chaotic rock of ‘Carolina‘ and ‘Kiwi‘, it’s an album which avoids isolating Directioners but one which enables Styles to win a new legion of fans.
Strictly speaking, it’s not entirely an original album. ‘Carolina‘ is essentially ‘Stuck in the Middle with You‘, the stunning ballad ‘Two Ghosts‘ (reportedly about Taylor Swift) comes dangerously close to ripping off The Allman Brothers’ ‘Melissa‘, the acoustic ‘Sweet Creature‘ is The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird‘ and massive ballad ‘Sign of The Times‘ is basically Bowie. It’s evident that Styles has used his iTunes collection as a stimulus but this is hardly a criticism; it’s refreshing to hear him breathe his interests and passion into his own music.
Vocally, Styles has never sounded better. From the growls of ‘She’s a good girl’ on ‘Carolina‘ and ‘She’s having your baby’ on ‘Kiwi‘ to the reverb-drenched vocals on ‘Sign of the Times‘ and ‘Woman‘, there’s no auto-tune in sight. His vocals are tender when required and more fierce on the heavier material. Similarly organic, the album generally avoids over-production and instead relies on quality songwriting, clear guitar strums, luscious layered vocals and rich string arrangements.
When things get a little too comfortable, the album is punctuated by a deceptive ethereal introduction to ‘Only Angel‘ which evolves into a hand-clapping, foot-stopping rock smash and the hip-hop inspired ‘Woman‘ – perhaps the album’s most intriguing moment.
It’s a solid album and at just ten tracks long, wisely adopts the quality over quantity approach.
Highlights: ‘Carolina’, ‘Two Ghosts’, ‘Ever Since New York’, ‘Woman’.