Highlights from Harry Styles's Debut
Directioners and lay-people rejoice: Harry Styles's debut has finally graced our ears. Unsurprisingly, it's pretty damn phenomenal. If it hasn't quite settled with you yet, the fact of the matter is that Styles has created a fantastic work of modern rock, at once nostalgic, fresh and daring. It's a beautiful and varied artpiece — the debut ranges from heartstring-tugging acoustic tracks (honestly, bordering on emo) to rock anthems — and Styles has officially proven his merit in today's rock scene. Becuase of this dynamic nature, we decided more time was needed with the record to do it the justice it deserves. In the meantime, Senior Arts Editor Carly Snider has graciously bided our appetites for all things Harry Styles below with her hot takes on some of the record's hottest tracks.
—Dominic Polsinelli, Summer Senior Arts Editor
“Meet Me in the Hallway”
The ringing tones that open “Meet Me in the Hallway” mimic, for a moment almost exactly, the opening notes of Buffalo Springfield’s seminal “For What It’s Worth.” Though Styles takes a more mellow route, the opening track sounds as though it could have been recorded decades ago, in a time when the boy bands were the rock stars. “Meet Me in the Hallway” calls upon tried and true themes as well — a drug induced haze to dull the pain — as Styles airily sings, “I just left your bedroom / Give me some morphine / Is there any more to do?” It’s an opener with a statement; it sets the scene for the variant, lovelorn rock to come.
Before Harry Styles was released in full, Styles announced the release of “Sweet Creature” via his Instagram. The caption read, “Sweet Creature is available now. Album is available in ten days. I am available always.” (Swoon.) As would be expected from the title and Styles’s tender release of the track, “Sweet Creature” is Styles’s take on a love ballad. Warm and melodic, the track lets his vocals — previously overshadowed and blended with the other members of One Direction — finally flow free. Though Styles’s lyricism is not the most nuanced or developed, “Sweet Creature” is a solid stepping block to a promising future.
Barely audible, the track opens: “Should we just search romantic comedies on Netflix and see what we find?” Cue the snare and a steady strum of guitar. “Woman” is the album’s most overtly sensual track, channeling the energy of past sultry crooners. But the song is not over-sexed; it is a toss up between lust and the mature pain that comes with love. “Woman” is powerful and intoxicating, just like its subject matter. The lyrics are little, with the chorus being comprised entirely of “Woman” with accompanying Beatle-esque “la la la”’s. Despite its simplicity, it works. And it works damn well.
“From The Dining Table”
Harry Styles’s closer starts off quiet and contemplative; the lyrics are self-deprecating and honest: “Woke up alone in this hotel room / Played with myself, where were you? / Fell back to sleep, I got drunk by noon / I’ve never felt less cool.” Though seemingly hopeless at its outset, “From the Dining Table” goes on to procure some glimpse of hope. The lyrics stay bleak (the track ends with “Even my phone misses your calls, by the way”) but somehow Styles’s tone isn’t all doom and gloom. It is this nuance — these minute changes in his tone and timbre — that make “From the Dining Table” so haunting and successful. And if this closing track is any indication of Styles’s future work, we have a lot to look forward to.