Hotly anticipated, cryptically teased, now finally released to the world: former One Direction member Harry Styles‘ first solo release, “Sign of the Times,” is here. Styles is the fourth Direction to release solo music after the band’s gentle dissolution, taking a glam-rock-adjacent tack on solid pop in his post-boy-band debut following bandmates Zayn (R&B-adjacent), Louis (electronic-adjacent) and Niall (folk-adjacent).
The Bowie comparisons are the easiest to reach for, though the track title itself is a nod to Prince. It’s young Harry’s own talent, however, that shines through here. The falsetto is beautiful, and the guitars that come crashing down on the chorus have a particular, sweeping grandness. Clocking in at almost six — yes, six — minutes, it’s got the weight of a song that can make you feel both immense and incomparably small, pulling you up as it flattens you. It is also important to note that this is a sad song.
“Sign of the Times” is the first release off an eventual full-length album, about which little is known other than — so far, so good. One last pleasure to note is that the YouTube video of the song’s audio played a 5 second advertisement for Miller High Life before treating me to the song because, in the end, all things considered, what is Harry Styles if not the champagne of boys.