Saturday, May 27, 2017

Harry Styles, and How His Album Reminded Me That It's OK to Be Alone

It's been quite a while since I've been able -- willing, rather-- to write a review of something I genuinely love. So I figured now's the time, while I'm in this seemingly constant state of flux, to gather the thoughts that I've stuffed into the back corner of my brain, and set them free. And first, I will talk about my unabashed love for Harry Styles new solo album.

Before getting into why I believe this is one of the most important albums of the year, let me say this: my life is on the verge of complete shambles, and this is one of the first things I've heard that has not only given me the courage to set forth on a journey alone, but has comforted me in a way I thought only a mother, or warm, weighted blanket could. The last time I've felt this scared and alone was back in the summer of 2010; I was going through a difficult personal time in my life, I was in between colleges, and very unsure what the future held. It was also the first time I saw something that I wanted so badly, worked so hard for it, and was able to get it. This was my internship, and first real glimpse at the music industry from the inside. It was exciting, new, difficult, and 100% a learning experience. But the real reason I reminisce so fondly of this summer 7 years ago, is because of the music that surrounded me. It was when blogs weren't oversaturated, music wasn't horseshit, and I was able to find things that I liked because I had developed a taste, and a style all to my own, and became comfortable going to shows alone. I was forced to be alone. It was uncomfortable and a nerve-wracking, and sure I had embarrassing moments sometimes, but I had to navigate life by myself for three months. There are sounds and smells that take me back to that summer; sounds that I haven't really revisited in quite some time, until Harry Styles dropped his beast of an album, and flipped all of my reservations right on its head.

Obviously I was hesitant to allot time to a member of One Direction. I was being a snob, with no good reason, until I saw him stand on that stage at SNL and slap me right in the face with "Sign of the Times" and his tantalizing sex appeal. A couple weeks later, I had a dream about him, it wasn't romantic but we were friends and I genuinely enjoyed being around him. The next day I opened my Spotify right up and ate that album like a delicious dairy-free chocolate cupcake. I found myself crying, laughing, dancing, and googling the lyrics so I didn't have to waste any time belting along at the top of my lungs. I was craving a chance to see him play his music live. This self titled masterpiece is everything the world of music needs. It needed to be brought back to basics, honing in on purely talented vocals, minimal instrumentation, and making us all remember what music is, was, and could be without trying too hard to stand out. It's important because it serves as a cleaning agent for the over saturation that is music right now, and it's inspiring because Harry Styles has come into something so beautiful and strong entirely on his own. Obviously no matter what he released, he would have a proper following thanks to the millions of fans OD garnered over their time on Earth, but to have something so different, so pure, and so utterly honest come from him is so incredibly satisfying, it brings me to tears. The album seems like it could have been inspired by The Dandy Warhols, Cake, Jet, and Los Angeles indie bands from the early 2010's, most specifically, reminding me of a quartet known as Chief who had great things in their future but was never quite able to reach their full potential. It takes me back to browsing RCRD LBL until the wee hours of the morning, finding bands like Smoosh, Absofacto, Ra Ra Riot, and fawning over the power Karen Elson held over me. It made me revisit Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger and Stars, the Deadweather, and every band Jack White had his hand in that year. This music formed me, and gave me so much inspiration to write in this exact blog so many years ago.

I could go in depth of every single song, but I'm going to take the time to focus on "From the Dining Table". Not only is this an incredibly stunning work of acoustic art fused together with a pleading pine of classical strings that will send chills throughout your body, but it's a reminder of how hard it is to feel like your heart is bruised. It makes my stomach hurt, in the best way possible, because life is uncomfortable and things are scary and there are times when you have to figure out this crazy thing called life alone, but again, that's what life is, isn't it? This song took my heart, shook it a bit, and let it drop into my intestines. It scares me because it reminds me of how nervous I get when I feel alone. But it also comforts me, and reminds me that it's OK to be alone. I never thought I would have to feel like this again; freelancing to save my life, confused about my personal life, and just so damn unsure of what the future holds. I'm scared. I'm really, really scared right now. I don't see the light at the end of a tunnel right now, but if I made it through the summer of 2010 single, scared, and in between universities, then I can do it again.

PS-listen to Ever Since New York, and then visit the band Chief, and tell me what you think.

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