Harry Styles is Harry Styles' self-titled debut studio album which was released on May 12, 2017 by Columbia Records and Styles' own record label, Erskine Records.
In August 2015, One Direction announced that an extended hiatus would take place following the release of their fifth studio album.
In January 2016, Us Weekly published a report claiming that the group's hiatus would, in fact, become a permanent split, noting that each of the four remaining group members did not renew their contracts following the completion of the "On the Road Again Tour" in October 2015.
Representatives for the group denied the report in a statement to Billboard, stating that "nothing has changed regarding hiatus plans for the group, and all will be revealed in due time from the band members' own mouths."
In February 2016, it was confirmed that Styles had left the group's management, becoming the second member of the band to do so after Zayn Malik's departure almost a year prior. In June, it was confirmed that he had signed a recording contract with Columbia Records.
Recording sessions for the album took place in a number of locations, including in Los Angeles, London, and the Gee Jam Hotel Recording Studio in Port Antonio, Jamaica, where Styles and his production team had a two-month writing retreat in the autumn of 2016.
- Meet Me In The Hallway 3:57
- Sign Of The Times 5:41
- Carolina 3:50
- Two Ghosts 3:10
- Sweet Creature 3:45
- Only Angel 4:51
- Kiwi 2:56
- Ever Since New York 4:13
- Woman 4:39
- From The Dining Table 3:32
"Harry Styles" debuted atop the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales of 57,000 units, with Styles becoming the second One Direction member to achieve a number one solo album, following Zayn's album, "Mind of Mine" in April 2016.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with 230,000 album-equivalent units, of which 193,000 were pure album sales. It is the highest first sales week for a British male artist's debut full-length album since Nielsen SoundScan began in 1991. Selling 67,000 units in its second week, it fell down to number three.
"Harry Styles" was ranked number 22 on the list of the top 40 biggest albums of 2017 on the UK Album Chart. It was the fourth best selling album by a British artist worldwide in 2017.
According to IFPI, it was the ninth best selling album of 2017, with 1 million copies shipped globally, and Sony Music's biggest global seller in the second quarter of 2017. It was the sixth best selling album of 2017 in Mexico.
At Metacritic, "Harry Styles" has an average score of 68 based on 24 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
AllMusic critic Tim Sendra opined that the album works "exceedingly well" as a modern pop record and an extension of the sound and brand of One Direction, but "as the kind of personal statement Styles wants to make, it comes very close, but ultimately falls just short."
Billboard's Jason Lipshutz wrote that Styles "has opted to forego radio play and make a big, brash guitar album", arguing, "his commitment to conjuring the spirit of '70s rock never comes across as overreaching."
Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield states that Styles "claims his turf as a true rock & roll prince" on his "superb solo debut".
Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times wrote Styles "never overplays his hand on this winningly relaxed collection", but found the "dad-baiting" album to be "full of echoes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones."
MusicOMH's John Murphy commented that even though it occasionally "dips into bland pastiche", the album is a "fine solo effort", which "as the latest step in rebranding Styles for a brand new audience, it will do just fine".
Annie Zaleski of The A.V. Club felt Styles took a "bold step forward by leaning on the past", adding, "hopefully the songs will someday catch up to his ambition."
Rick Pearson of Evening Standard called it "a self-consciously serious and grown-up effort."
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian stated that while "Styles is remarkably good as a confessional singer-songwriter [...] not all the album's musical homages work".
Jon Caramanica of The New York Times felt the "sometimes great, sometimes foggy" album is "almost bold in its resistance to contemporary pop music aesthetics."
David Sakllah of Consequence of Sound wrote "the missteps don't detract too much from this ambitious, if slightly unfocused, debut", as "he's certainly on the right track".
Mesfin Fekadu of Associated Press noted the performance aspect of the album is where Styles "truly shines", but "not so much" in the creative process.
Anjali Raguraman of The Straits Times called "Sign of the Times" the "strongest" track on the album and felt Styles sounds "most self-assured on the slower numbers", while noting that "his inexperience shows when he falls into tired tropes."
Regarding the use of tropes, Roisin O'Connor of The Independent was disappointed that Styles did not "break away from some of the more fatigued gender archetypes that dominate the rock music he clearly loves."
Shahzaib Hussain of Clash contended that Styles "[created] an immersive, reference-fuelled tribute to classic rock for the millennial generation", albeit "[offering] little in the way of innovation".
However, Hussain singles out "Only Angel" and "Kiwi" for being "misfires", calling the tracks "a one-two punch of masochistic, rock swaggering, admirable in its legerdemain, [that] ultimately comes undone by haphazard lyricism."
In a negative review, Dave Hanratty of Drowned in Sound felt that Styles "failed to make a defining statement", writing that the album "from start to finish [...] is a series of impressions" of Elton John, Beck, Mick Jagger, and The Beatles.
Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph wrote that compared to the other One Direction member's solo careers, Styles' is "more eccentric but more appealing, with an endearing quality of relish in its musical adventures", calling the album "so old-fashioned it may actually come across as something new to its target audience" and "perfectly lovely and about as substantial as ripples on the surface of a Beverly Hills swimming pool".
Leah Greenblaat of Entertainment Weekly named Styles "a man proudly looking backward, a faithful revivalist steeped in the tao of dusty vinyl and dad rock" while noting that he "basks in the privilege of paying tribute to his many musical heroes, and trying on all the styles that fit".
Leonie Cooper of NME described the album as "a not-that-bad-actually mish-mash of Los Angeles’ style classic rock and ballads", commenting that fans will be "over the moon with this collection of radio-friendly rockers and heartstring tugging balladry" and "everyone else" will be "be pleasantly surprised – if not a little taken aback at just how many tricks he’s pinched from other artists". She ends the review by opining that "taking inspiration from the best seems to have paid dividends, but it doesn’t half make you wonder what the real Harry Styles sounds like."
Jamieson Cox of Pitchfork wrote that the record "pays fine tribute to classic rock’n’roll and shows off his exceptional voice, if not his enigmatic persona", opining that his "vocal performances are invariably the best parts of these songs" while particuraly praising the album's last track, "From the Dining Table", writing that "it’s intoxicating, and it ends Harry Styles on the most promising possible note."