Harry Styles
What does Harry Styles have to offer on his upcoming album? (Illustration by Fins, Montclair State University)

What to Expect From Harry Styles’ Upcoming Album

The former One Direction star’s interview with Rolling Stone gives fans key insight into his upcoming album.

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Harry Styles

The former One Direction star’s interview with Rolling Stone gives fans key insight into his upcoming album.

Directioners are one of the most dedicated fan bases on the planet, so it’s no surprise that Harry Styles’ discussion of his upcoming album was met with intense support. After giving an in-depth interview for Rolling Stone, fans are buzzing with enthusiasm. With his self-titled album having come out in 2017, new music seems like the right direction for the 25-year-old singer.

The most surprising information in the Rolling Stone cover story is that Styles used psychedelics while recording and writing the album. Although rock ‘n’ roll has never shielded away from drug use, it is intriguing to see an artist discuss it as openly as Styles. Some have criticized the singer-songwriter for his vulnerability, while others are questioning what this reveals about the album.

In reality, the fact that Styles used psychedelic drugs during production reveals nothing about the sound of the album. Everyone from Snoop Dogg to Britney Spears to the Rolling Stones has admitted to using drugs, and the musical stylings of these artists could not be further apart.

Most of Styles’ album was recorded in just six weeks at the famed Shangri La Studios. This recording studio has seen many musicians, including Bob Dylan, Epic Clapton, Weezer, Metallica and many other famous rock acts over the years. The storied history of this Malibu recording studio gives Styles large shoes to fill.

Many critics praised Styles’ freshman album for having a more sophisticated and rocky tone than expected, and this historic location might prove to be an inspiration from icons past. As an avid fan of bands like Fleetwood Mac, the weight of recording at Shangri La Studios does not seem to be lost on Styles.

With producers Jeff Bhasker and Tyler Johnson returning for this album, it seems that Styles has reassembled the team responsible for the critical success of his first album. Bhasker has produced huge hits by Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, while Johnson has worked with Taylor Swift, John Legend and Ed Sheeran.

There is no lack of talent in the studio with Styles, and working with this team begs questions about how similar the sound of the new album will be to his previous work. This album might establish Styles as a soft rocker for the new millennia or help him defy any categorization as an artist.

In his own words, Styles describes his new album as being about “having sex and feeling sad.” Although there were certainly melancholy tones on the artist’s first album, this does appear to be a departure from the fun-loving elements of the “Harry Styles” album. Although this description seems vivid, it is rather vague about the sound and premise of the album. Fans will have to wait to get a sense of the artist’s evolving sound.

Styles has also discussed very specific influences for the upcoming album. Paul McCartney’s solo work and collaboration with Wings had important influences on the project. It will prove interesting to see how the sound of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest stars will imprint itself on the album.

In the interview, Styles also discussed opening up emotionally as he has gotten older. Growing up has helped him to become more vulnerable in personal relationships, which could be reflected in his upcoming music.

One Direction’s music grew more open and honest as they progressed, and Styles’ first album capitalized on that change. Previously, Styles had expressed affection for the straightforward and honest nature of songwriters like Harry Nilsson. His admiration for the simplicity of writers like Nilsson could foreshadow a lyrical direction for the upcoming album.

In the interview, Styles also discussed the fear he had during his time in One Direction. Constantly afraid of making any type of mistake that might impact the band, the 25-year-old singer grew up in a very different world than most people. Since the band’s hiatus in 2015, Styles has had the opportunity to shed that fear and learn that it’s okay to make mistakes.

This newfound approach to life might help the singer to discuss more difficult topics on the album or take bigger risks than he might have on the last album. New genres, new themes and new ideas are likely to be explored on this album as Styles works on cementing himself as a solo artist.

While on stage, Styles is famous for championing rainbow flags and Black Lives Matter stickers on his guitar. For Styles, it seems that highlighting important social issues is a central part of who he is. This begs the question of whether more political lyrics will appear on this next album. Although he acknowledges that, as a white male, he has not faced the specific challenges of many communities, he seeks to create a place where everyone can be seen.

In his previous work, Harry Styles has steered clear of these topics, but maybe his newfound openness will give him the confidence to talk about them. As they appear to be at the core of Styles’ values and personality, it would be a shame if they did not make an appearance on the album.

Whatever choices Styles makes for the album, fans and critics alike are excited to see what he has to offer. With the success of his first album, some might think that the standards are set far too high to make this album work. In opening up about his personal life and the creation of the album, Styles confronts the expectations of others. As long as fans can see the hard work and genuine nature of Styles’ personality in the music, the album will be iconic.

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