Friday, 7 April 2017

Harry Styles - Sign Of The Times, single review

It's possible that for some millennials (and for a clutch of Directioners in particular), a title such as 'Sign Of The Times' may not immediately bring to mind the unforgettable influence of Prince and his seminal, and similarly titled, album.

And so, already Harry Styles is on unsteady ground with a certain age group, as if having nice hair, considerable wealth, youth on his side and having previously dated Taylor Swift wouldn't be enough to tip the scales against you.  

What does this Enfant Incredible do next?  He channels the '90s, repackages it into some modern epic and embarrasses all of the elder haters who wished that he'd fail.

Zayn shunned pop with an on-trend R'n'B vibe, Nial went chasing the bankable Sheeran sound.... Whereas Harry Styles has his people put forth a song that starts off sounding like a throwback to the Stereophonics that surprisingly Radio 1 isn't too trendy to snub, progresses with an effort comparable to Sinead O'Connor, and then throws in nods to the Oasis' cocaine excesses of Be Here Now and slightly buried guitar licks that bring to mind the revered soloing of Slash's contributions on the power balladry of early '90s Guns N’ Roses uber-hit November Rain.

So despite the fact that he has a ready made audience ready to lap up even his crudest efforts, Harry Styles goes and tugs at the nostalgic heartstrings of a generation that music is leaving behind, here comes another wave of ’90s trade-ins to remind an older generation that, yes, they are older, and what goes around will inevitably come around, and a younger generation that this is something like what the present used to be like (don't worry, you can view it all on youtube).

No, it isn't 'Sign O' The Times'.  And no, it isn't quite as epic as the aforementioned 'November Rain’ at nearly half the running time, but in a world of 3 minute fodder, a five minute plus track played out on mainstream radio feels positively decadent.  But we've seen George Michael practically sainted since his sad passing for his charitable efforts as well as his musical offerings, and Robbie Williams has rode a roller coaster of self-medicating, self-loathing and rude-boxing to become a national treasure... 

Who's to say that Harry isn't next....  

(hopefully minus the usual British turnmill of emotional turmoil)