Not generally a fan of “One Direction-esque” pop music, I was not very familiar with the specific nature of each member’s talent. Zayn has had incredibly successful hits, but at first they seemed like a desperate attempt to prove he was grown up and to overcompensate for any masculinity he felt he lost being a member of a boy band. It came as quite a shock to me then, when Harry Styles released his eponymous first album– an album, that so clearly demonstrated his musical knowledge and passion for rock.
Mr. Styles has a very long way to go if he wants to be on the same level as those I can only imagine inspired this album, a la Elton John, David Bowie, Rod Stewart and so many others. However, as a first major foray away from his past and into his future, the album definitely serves as a try-it-all, allowing him to begin figuring out just what kind of artist he wants to be and where he wants to go from here.
Filled with soft crooning, and introduced by isolated piano, Sign of the Times is no doubt going to be the biggest hit of the bunch. “His debut solo single “Sign of the Times” continues with One Direction’s po-mo project of recycling classic-rock sounds as bubblegum. But he’s now embracing such sounds with more abandon, less chirpiness, some trend bucking, and the kind of uplifting lyrics that nod to planetary anxiety…Pick your reference: “Champagne Supernova”? “Bittersweet Symphony”? “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing?” (The Atlantic).
Whether or not he reached his desired level of rebellion or independence from One Direction (and so what if he fell a little short at times), I think there is something wonderful about watching an artist transition into becoming who they were always meant to be.
He is so on the right track.