The members of One Direction have gone significantly separate ways since the band split. Zayn has gone on to have a very successful solo career so far, with his stellar debut album, Mind of Mine being one of my albums of the year last year. Two of the members have gone on to be Dads, with Liam Payne recently naming his child after university exams, and Louis Tomlinson releasing the Steve Aoki collaboration, Just Hold On, which was a fantastic house music mix with emotional lyrics. Niall is releasing terrible Ed Sheeran-esque, guitar, folk music. He has definitely started releasing the worst music since the split, and has seen the least amount of success as a result. That leaves us with Harry Styles, always widely regarded as the more hipster one, the one who I always thought looked completely out of place when he was with the boy band, especially towards the demise of One Direction. Harry Styles announced his solo album a while ago, yet no music was released up until last month when Sign of The Times was thrown onto the market. Then we swiftly got another single, then before we knew it the album was out. The whole release schedule was very rushed, so I had concerns that the album was rushed.
The album opens with Meet Me In The Hallway, there's some great strings on this song that are almost haunting as they loom over the track. The vocals are echoey to the point where it must have been on purpose, it's like a representation of Harry Styles falling into this dark void. It really sets the tone for this album because throughout this whole album there are so many different sounds. For example, this song sounds like an acoustic Tame Impala throwaway, but then there's the bold ballad of Sign of the Times and then there's songs like Kiwi. Kiwi is what I'd refer to as outdated rock, it sounds like them trash 70's records your dad would put on that haven't stood the test of time very well. There's a few tracks on here that are like that. However, it's the slower, smoother cuts where Harry Styles really shines, and I have to admit I didn't realise he could sing as well as this!
The song Sign of the Times is one of the highlights of the album, I've been very vocal for how good I think this track is. It holds some slow strings at the beginning before Harry bursts into this epic chorus and you can really feel atmosphere and the raw emotion. Styles recently said that the song is about Black Lives Matter which is terrible headline baiting because the lyrics are not deep enough to tackle such an issue. Nonetheless, this is an excellent track. By far and away the worst song on the album is Only Angel, there's build up for about 30 seconds and then he shouts hey and it kicks in with this late 70's hair-metal style and it's so terribly outdated, I can't imagine One Direction's even most hardcore of fans being able to sit through this track, because I definitely couldn't.
That's the main problem with this album, being only 40 minutes long and 10 songs deep, every single song has to be a sure fire hit otherwise there's not enough of the album to actually restore my positive ideas of it. Half of this album is good, I'd even go as far as to say it's excellent. But then the other half is so bad, that it's terrible. I can't see an album this inconsistent making my end of the year list. However, once Harry Styles finds a sound he wants to stick to, and I think with Meet Me In The Hallway and Sign of The Times he's found a sound that could see his next album being an absolute cracker, but for now he's just provided mediocrity.