By Hayden Wright
Harry Styles‘ debut solo album premieres this Friday (5/12) and his reintroduction to the public has gone off without a hitch. Lead single “Sign of the Times” has climbed the Billboard charts and Harry is everywhere, from the cover of Rolling Stone to the Today Show plaza and James Corden’s couch. He even has an acting debut in the can—Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk premieres this year and will test his crossover success even further. For now, all eyes are on Harry’s 10-track, self-titled album.
The One Direction alumnus with the good hair spent more than a year fine-tuning his solo debut—inspired by classic rock icons and a more authentic, personal perspective.
“I didn’t want to write ‘stories,'” Styles told Rolling Stone about his new album. “I wanted to write my stories, things that happened to me. The number-one thing was I wanted to be honest. I hadn’t done that before.”
As a result, Harry looks poised to make good on the Mick Jagger comparisons that have followed him around since One Direction. His appeal to 1D devotees is undiminished but “Sign of the Times,” his self-titled solo album’s lead single, has already earned him new fans. The song’s stunning music video encapsulates the next chapter of Harry’s career: imaginative, offbeat and refined in all the right places.
Related: Harry Styles Announces 2017 Tour
“I wanted to step up,” he said. “There were songs I wanted to write and record, and not just have it be ‘Here’s a demo I wrote.’ Every decision I’ve made since I was 16 was made in a democracy. I felt like it was time to make a decision about the future … and maybe I shouldn’t rely on others.”
Styles drew upon new collaborators like producer Jeff Bhasker, who’s worked with The Rolling Stones, Kanye West and Mark Ronson. They led jam sessions with producer-instrumentalists Alex Salibian and Tyler Johnson. Lyrically, Styles arrived in a darker place than he’d ever gone as a member of a boy band.
“People romanticize places they can’t get to themselves,” he said. “That’s why it’s fascinating when people go dark – when Van Gogh cuts off his ear. You romanticize those people, sometimes out of proportion. It’s the same with music. You want a piece of that darkness, to feel their pain but also to step back into your own [safer] life.”
Harry Styles’ will be taking his solo debut out on the road this fall, starting September 19th.