Review: Harry Styles by Harry Styles

Harry Styles by Harry StylesIf you heard one of the songs from this album by chance, and you had no inkling it’s Harry Styles, you’d probably like it. I had that experience; I was picked up from the airport last weekend and my brother had “Meet Me in the Hallway” playing, and half-sleepy me had no idea. I’m not saying you’ll instantly dislike this album when you find out it’s that guy from One Direction. It’s just that the label carries so much weight. 1D were not always frothy music, by all means – they have been flirting with classic rock across their four albums – but hearing the group’s breakout go solo with a record carrying a sound that should ooze authenticity results in a bit of dissonance. He can carry the 70s rock influences – most of the songs on his eponymous solo debut are actually enjoyable, and if you don’t listen closely, even the duds do their jobs on a long drive – but he fails to make them his own, dawg, to quote Randy Jackson. (Different reality show, I know.) Remember when everyone thought of David Bowie when “Sign of the Times” was released? Perhaps it’s the baggage – you imagine Harry being that guy from 1D. But no, this isn’t a bad album. It’s good, but he’s just not there yet. It’s a challenge, this thing Harry is doing to himself. He’ll have to push more to really convince us he can embrace these influences. [NB]3/5

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