Harry Styles: ‘Sign Of The Times’

The long awaited debut single from One Directioner Harry Styles is finally here, and it’s surprisingly convincing in parts.

Styles has released a downtempo track, with soaring vocals, and lyrics about some kind of dystopian reality (which are probably influenced by the demise of his mega-famous band).

‘Sign of The Times’ thematically references ‘Life On Mars’ pretty heavily, and it’s use of organic instrumentation and strings is also a pretty obvious nod to Bowie.

While it sounds slick and has some great vintage references, we can’t help but compare it to the biting wit and sarcasm that Bowie’s tunes effortlessly delivered. While it’s pretty easy to emulate another artist’s sound, it’s a lot harder to imitate their actual craft as a songwriter. These lyrics feel a bit serious, and a bit stale.

So all in all: great production (from iconic producer Jeff Bhasker). A mature sound. Lush vocals that impress. Catchy melodies. But the lyrics don’t do it any justice, meaning Styles didn’t quite hit where he was trying to go.

But hey, maybe this hails the return of brit pop. And that could be a very good thing.

Listen here: