Those used to the gruff and husk of Harry Styles’ One Direction voice might be pleasantly surprised by the new track he dropped on Friday. The former One Direction member released “Sign Of The Times,” his first foray into solo material, as a falsetto wonderland, filled with lush orchestral arrangements and David Bowie-esque guitars.
“Just stop your crying / It’s a sign of the times / Welcome to the final show / I hope you’re wearing your best clothes,” he sings in a slightly higher register than usual. Taking a page from his fellow former bandmate, Zayn, he then shoots his voice up even higher in a delicate harmony. After the simple piano ballad intro, a giant wave of sound crashes in onto the track, with a glissando of guitar and strings. To add to the menagerie, a choir chimes in to make everything seem more holy as Styles flings his voice into ad-libs and runs. The song details an apocalyptic situation, whether that be our current political climate or global unrest or just death in general.
“Sign Of The Times” is being lauded as the next coming of David Bowie (although there are plenty of fans out there who would disagree). The legendary singer died in January 2016, the same month as he released his final album, and it was around that time when One Direction went their separate ways. Bowie’s influence, whether it be in the swinging guitar, the eerie choir or even the affection of Styles’ vocals, is deeply penetrated in the new track.
Styles originally teased that his solo debut was coming when a mysterious commercial aired during The Voice UK, and shortly after, he used his Twitter account to unveil the single art, along with the title of the track and the release date. While fans anticipated April, they also caught on to paparazzi footage that had Styles dangling from a helicopter for his upcoming music video.