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The Bull's Eye

Harry Styles pursues his own direction

In his highly anticipated solo album, Harry Styles discards his boyband image for a 1970’s rock sound.

Emily Jacobsson, Editor-in-chief

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The idea of Harry Styles becoming an individual artist was suggested  from the moment he became famous as part of One Direction. With his much anticipated solo album, Styles has wiped the slate clean, and the old boy-band extraordinaire that was  loved by nearly every teenage girl in 2010 is no more, replaced by a much more mature Styles with a revamped sound.

 And while this change has gained Styles both attention and praise, overall, this new album fell short of my expectations.  

The Styles of One Direction is completely unrecognizable with his new music, which borrows heavily from 1970’s soft rock.  “Meet Me in the Hallway” is a faraway sounding song that gently begins the album with acoustic guitar picking and echoing background vocals. Continuing that  lethargic, drowsy sound  is “Sign of the Times,”  previously released as a single. The content of the song is surprisingly heavy, as it is written from the perspective of a mother who is going to die after giving birth.

As the track list goes on, the album transitions through many different sounds. With “Carolina” and “Kiwi,” Styles fully indulges into the rock genre, making for two of the most enjoyable songs on the album.  

“Sweet Creature,” which was also released as a single, is a complete deviation from the rest of the album. Sounding like something produced by Ed Sheeran, the song is, as the title implies, sweet and cheerful. This song is also the closest Styles gets to anything that sounds remotely like a One Direction song.

It seems that, out of all the different sounds the new album samples, Styles gravitates toward laid-back, instrumentally simple songs. The album ends with “From the Dining Table,” which shares many qualities with the first track. While there is an almost touchingly beautiful quality to these songs, musically they are nothing special, and can easily fade out to become background music.

After getting over initial shock and disappointment that Harry Styles was no longer going to be synonymous with the upbeat pop sound that I had come to love during the One Direction era, I was able to appreciate his brave artistic decisions in straying so far from mainstream music. And while there is no track on the new album that I can see myself adding to any of my playlists, I have to concede that Styles has created something smart, sensitive and distinctive.

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Harry Styles pursues his own direction