Start from the last track on Harry Styles, work your way back, and one of the first lyrics you’ll hear is “played with myself, where were you?” This is a new Harry Styles, not the Harry Styles we remember from One Direction.
Honest and vulnerable, Styles exposes a sense of hurt. ‘Woman’ highlights broken promises and wounds that cut deeper than Zayn leaving 1D: “apologies are never going to fix this”.
While I’m usually quick to compare to other artists, the beat in ‘Kiwi’ is distinctly original and hits a new sound in pop. Styles challenges every assumption of who he is as a ‘teen idol’, and if the lyrics “she’s all over me like I paid for it” doesn’t shake this image, nothing will.
Inevitably there’s talk surrounding the song about his ex Taylor Swift. Styles has created a loose comparison to her song ‘Style’ with ‘Two Ghosts’, referencing blue eyes, red lips and a white T-shirt. If it so happens ‘Only Angel’ is about Swift, media will have a field day with the lyric, “she’s a devil between the sheets, and there’s nothing she can do about it”.
‘Sign Of The Times’, the powerful first single, offers a sense of new hope and beginnings. Styles told Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw, “I feel like I’ve been hibernating for so long… and now it’s time to give birth.”
Styles’ labour of love allows us to see the real him, through both his songwriting and recording that rails against manufactured pop. It’s a solid debut album, but someone needs to give the guy a hug.