Harry Styles surprised us all with the release of his new single, “Lights Up,” a first look at the new sound of his unannounced upcoming album. The ex-One Direction member is back and better than ever, stepping out of his two year musical hiatus and stepping into a new era of Harry Styles. Styles has strayed a bit from the soft rock of his first album and seems to be aiming more toward an alternative pop sound. However, the single still seems to channel Styles’ long-time love of 70s music, with a trippy pre-chorus and a whimsical combination of guitar, piano, and synth. According to his Rolling Stone article, Styles recorded his new album by taking psychedelics, laying in the grass, and listening to the Beatles — and this single is definitely a product of that.
If you look past the upbeat nature of the instrumentals, the lyrics house the deeper meanings that Styles tends to have in his music. His lyrics focus on realizing who you are, and celebrating whoever that may be. The music slows with his pre-chorus of “Lights up and I know who you are/Know who you are/Do you know who you are?”backed by pretty piano chords, and you’re kind of forced into an existential crisis. However, Styles doesn’t wait for you to figure it out; it doesn’t matter who you are, celebrate it anyway. The synth picks back up, the beat quickens, and Styles says “Step into the light/So bright sometimes/I’m not ever coming back.” He is unapologetic about his willingness to express himself, so much so that it’s infectious, and you suddenly want to throw your hands up and dance like nobody’s watching.
Harry Styles has grown since his One Direction days. He broke away from the pop music of today and went back in time to the pop music of the 70s. He’s bringing back a sound that defined a generation and is transforming it to meet ]the needs of 2019. While it may only be one single, Styles is more confident than he’s ever been in his sound, and I am excited to see what his second album holds.
Review By: Cristina DiFlorio