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Harry Styles’ debut studio album, released on 12 May 2017 through Columbia Records and Erskine, marked a departure from his One Direction roots. Working with producers Jeff Bhasker, Alex Salibian, Tyler Johnson, and Kid Harpoon, Styles delves into themes of love, relationships, and personal reflections.
Influenced by the music of the 1960s and 1970s, the album features a mix of soft rock, rock, Britpop, and pop. The lead single, “Sign of the Times,” set the tone with its pop-rock and soft-rock elements. Other notable singles include “Two Ghosts” and “Kiwi.”
The album received positive reviews, praised for its modern pop sensibilities and its extension of Styles’ musical identity beyond One Direction. It debuted at the top of charts in multiple countries and achieved platinum certification in several nations, including the UK, the US, Australia, and Canada. In 2017, it ranked as the ninth best-selling album globally.
The album’s background stems from Styles’ departure from One Direction and his signing with Columbia Records. Recording sessions, spanning various locations, contributed to the diverse sound of the album, with notable sessions held at the Gee Jam Hotel Recording Studio in Jamaica. The promotional efforts included a concert tour, “Harry Styles: Live on Tour,” starting in September 2017.
Musically, Styles draws inspiration from classic rock, singer-songwriter folk, and British classic rock. The album opens with the psychedelic pop ballad “Meet Me in the Hallway” and features diverse tracks such as the pop-rock ballad “Sign of the Times,” the Britpop-inspired “Carolina,” and the country-influenced soft rock of “Two Ghosts.” The album explores various styles, including glam rock in “Only Angel,” funk rock in “Woman,” and closes with the acoustic ballad “From The Dining Table.”
Critical reception was generally positive, with praise for Styles’ transition into a solo artist. The album’s “generally favorable” Metacritic score reflects its broad appeal. Styles’ vocal performances were highlighted as strengths, with some critics noting influences from iconic artists like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and The Rolling Stones. While some saw the album as a successful homage to classic rock, others found it occasionally veering into pastiche territory.
A1 Meet Me In The Hallway
A2 Sign Of The Times
A4 Two Ghosts
A5 Sweet Creature
B1 Only Angel
B3 Ever Since New York
B5 From The Dining Table
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