by Anjali Dhanekula
In 2015, Harry Styles was mainly known for being one of the 5 members of the amazingly amazing boy band, One Direction. However, they decided to take a hiatus, and in 2017, he released his debut solo album. Although categorized in the pop genre, it’s characterized heavily by rock and folk qualities and has a broad range of songs. Yes, it can make you go from sobbing one minute to jumping around and dancing the next, but the highs and lows of this album are part of the reason it is so special to me. It is one of my favorite albums to date and below I have reviewed exactly what makes each song great. Disclaimer: this is only my opinion. You should definitely go listen to the album for yourself, maybe even multiple times!
- Meet Me in the Hallway: 7.5/10
In this track, Harry creates a dreamy, calming yet sad atmosphere through guitar strums and synthy plucks. He explores a crumbling relationship through the lenses of addiction and recovery. To me, he uses the hallway as a metaphor for recovery, like he’s asking the other person in the relationship to join him on his journey to get better. His voice works really well with the guitar, and emphasizes the emotion he’s feeling.
- Sign of the Times: 9/10
This pop-rock track marks Harry’s debut single as a solo artist. It follows the story of a mother giving her last advice to her child and talks about avoiding emotion and reality during times of grief and hardship. His voice really takes a prominent role in this song, and I prefer the live performances of this song, particularly because I can hear the raw emotion in his voice.
- Carolina: 8/10
This track is one of my favorites on the album, just due to how fun and funky it is. The unconventional drums and shakers in the backtrack as well as the deep bass create a song that you just want to jam out to. The song is supposedly an ode to a girl named Townes, a UCLA student Harry met in LA, as he specifically references her name in the first verse. The ad-libs of “oh yeah” and “la la la la la” take it’s groove to the next level.
- Two Ghosts: 8.5/10
To me, this track is Harry’s take on country and the embodiment of nostalgia. In my opinion, it is also the strongest song, lyrically, on the album. The drum intro and simple guitar chords start off the song with longing for people we used to be. My favorite lyrics are the chorus: “We’re not who we used to be/ we’re not who we used to be/ We’re just two ghosts swimming in a glass half empty/ Trying to remember how it feels to have a heartbeat”. The background vocals and short guitar interlude add to the nostalgia, reminding me of changing, but not for the better.
- Sweet Creature: 8/10
This track is a sweet guitar tune that shows off Harry’s folk style. The guitar intro is reminiscent of “Blackbird” by the Beatles. The term ‘sweet creature’ comes from Shakespeare and the song discusses two people who are meant to be facing difficulties in their relationship. The harmonies and background vocalizations create a sweet, nostalgic feeling and my favorite lyric is “when I run out of road/ you bring me home.” I love how this song tackles nostalgia, but in a different way than ‘Two Ghosts.’ Instead of sad nostalgia and focusing on how you changed, this song looks back at a relationship and remembering the good times and how much one person means to you.
- Only Angel: 1000/10 🙂
This is my favorite song on this album. Period. The track starts off with a choir-like, ethereal intro which is just perfection and then suddenly, it flips a switch into a catchy rock song. I love how this song embraces its rock influences, and the heavy drums work seamlessly with the electric guitar and piano. I love singing this in the car and there’s a reason why it’s my favorite. It’s amazing.
- Kiwi: 9/10
This is probably the most rock track on this entire album, and it is an absolute banger! The bursts of guitar and drums are amazing and there is just so much energy in this song. It is one for screaming the lyrics into a hairbrush microphone in your bedroom at 3am in the morning. It’s amazing to jump around and dance to and in my opinion, is a straight bop.
- Ever Since New York: 8/10
This song is a slow-folk style song with electric guitar, toms, and soft synths. Harry detailed in a private show that he wrote this song in Brooklyn after he found out about his stepfather’s cancer diagnosis. You can hear the emotional struggle in the lyrics and vocals. In a way he is begging for good news through the line “tell me something I don’t already know.” This song tugs at my heartstrings everytime.
- Woman: 7/10
This is a sultry track about longing for being with someone. The bassline is really funky and this combined with Harry’s baritone voice give the song a nice groove. The chorus is really simple and consists of the word ‘woman’ repeated over and over again with ‘la la la la la’ as background vocals. I really like this song and it’s great to sing along to.
- From the Dining Table: 10/10
Ah, to be a cry song. This track is the last on the album and is very somber and melancholy. It depicts the pain of seeing someone you once loved move on to someone else. My favorite lyric is “we haven’t spoke since you went away/ comfortable silence is so overrated.” The track starts with a simple guitar melody. Then, Harry’s voice is introduced. The track was made so it feels like his voice surrounds you. Later in the song, harmonies are built in the chorus along with the addition of strings to build the emotion until the music dissipates into just that simple guitar again. This is my second favorite song on the album. The way the raw emotion in the vocals and the simplicity of the guitar combine never fails to get the tears rolling.