Harry Styles by Harry Styles, via Erskine Records (in collaboration with Columbia Records)
Beginning with a hushed 2…3…4, Harry Styles’ opening track “Meet Me in the Hallway” takes its gentle, dreamy melodies and leads you out of yourself and down a rabbit hole into a fairytale world apart. A glimpse into a dream, Harry Styles draws you in, holds you close, lifts you into the stars, and brings slowly you back down to earth again. Wandering through glam rock power ballads, psychedelic rhythms, and folk-y meditations, Harry Styles is a collection of vignettes that weave a tale of love, loss, and mis(sed)communication. Whether you prefer the album’s more upbeat tracks like “Carolina” and “Woman” or its more somber, introspective offerings like “Ever Since New York” and “From the Dining Table,” Harry Styles is always sweet, soft, and completely weightless. Intimate, warm, and intensely private; Harry Styles shuts out the world and lets you be alone with yourself. And in the hard, terrifying year that was 2017, Harry Styles by Harry Styles felt like a remedy.
When my end-of-year Spotify stats informed me that the good Harry Styles was my top streamed artist of the year, I was genuinely surprised—hadn’t his album only come out in May? Yet I slowly realized that over the course of these few months, Harry Styles by Harry Styles had become my multipurpose, any occasion album; it is what I put on when nothing else would do. While I cleaned, cooked, showered, walked to class, did my homework, did anything—if I wasn’t listening to a podcast, Harry Styles was always my first choice of escape. In the Pink album’s alternate universe, there was none of the anger, fear, fight that characterized daily life—just peace, just light, just feeling.
Harry Styles by Harry Styles is kind and it is quiet—and in a year defined by nothing besides unending chaos—it is exactly what I needed.