Harry Styles kicks off solo career with ‘Sign Of The Times’
Directioners and curious pop fans of all kinds have been looking forward to this moment. Former One Direction member Harry Styles finally releases his solo debut single. After Zayn Malik left the band and followed a career in R&B, Niall Horan dropped an acoustic pop track while Louis Tomlinson found himself in dance music with a collaboration with Steve Aoki. As expected, Harry goes down a more rock infused road, while first reports on the track described it as Queen and David Bowie inspired. Way to increase the hype and expectations! The announcement of the single release was made exactly 30 years after the release of the legendary Prince album with the same name. Styles is clearly honouring his idols, but does he do them justice with his own material?
‘Sign of the Times’ is a big ballad that starts out with just Harry’s voice over piano, but slowly builds up to a climax with a carefully constructed light rock arrangement. For those who expected Harry Styles’ solo material to be drastically different than what he did as part of One Direction, may be mistaken. Yes, ‘Sign of the Times’ does have some hearable influences from 70s rock, but that becomes mostly apparent in the chorus and it is not as in your face as expected. ‘Sign of the Times’ has a beautiful melody in the chorus with a strong main hook, but could easily be categorized as safe radio pop/rock. Nothing wrong with that though, as the song is well written and Harry shows off that his vocals matured beautifully. The higher register to his voice in the pre-chorus misses a bit of power though. The track’s duration (almost 6 minutes) is overdoing it slightly as it starts to drag a bit before the proper climax comes along. ‘Sign of the Times’ is a decent debut, but might not fully live up to the hype created beforehand.