Here we are again with another album review and a highly anticipated one at that. I’ve been incredibly excited to listen to this album for the last few months. Spoiler alert, I was not disappointed. I had a lot of expectations, and the album managed to go against all of them while still hitting the mark. Not to say I’m a tough critic, but I’m a tough critic. So this album is an impressive feat.
Just like Harry himself, this album and its lyrics are clouded in mystery. Just like a chocolate box, you never know what to expect with each song. And each song in this album is nothing like the last. While this would normally frustrate an amateur music reviewer like me, I can appreciate that Harry had to get out what he’s likely been holding in for years. The album crosses genres, inspirations, and moments, and yet still manages to work because it covers all aspects of Harry’s character and range. Which seems fitting for a debut solo album.
Because it wasn’t a fully “cohesive” album (by who’s standards? I don’t know. I don’t make the rules), the songs in this album were incredibly difficult to compare. So I opted for a standard track-by-track review and I hope you enjoy it!
Meet Me in the Hallway
“Just let me know, I’ll be at the door, at the door / Hoping you’ll come around”
As the first track of the album, “Meet Me in the Hallway” is a great blend of a slow ballad with some pop elements, combining slower verses with an urgent chorus. Perhaps a “hallway” of sorts? This track carries a psychedelic or dreamy element, but don’t expect that throughout the rest of the album. If this song does anything as the first track, it clues us into the fact that this album will be a blend of styles (lol) and nothing like we expect. Except maybe lyrically shocking, as this song sets the tone for what will be a very poetic and mysterious album.
Sign of the Times
“Will we ever learn? / We’ve been here before / It’s just what we know”
Many people note that this song is from the perspective of a mother dying at childbirth, penning this song to her child. But I think it’s apocalyptic tone can also be applied to a relationship that always been on the verge of dying out. To me, it seems to be a song about two people trying to make it works, but circumstances keep pushing them apart despite their efforts. Regardless of it’s intended meaning, Harry’s vocals throughout really hit the mark. While it’s not your typical pop radio single, it’s an anthem with an edge, which is precisely what I like about it.
“How would I tell her that she’s all I think about? / Well, I guess she just found out”
Upon first listen of this song, I thought it was just a simple and fun track. But this song will get stuck in your head when you least expect it, and good luck getting it out. In a very Swift-esque fashion, this song really highlights Harry’s ability to find high-intensity, song-worthy emotion out of one moment, and speaks a lot to his songwriting abilities. Even more than that, it has one of the best beats on the album and, in my opinion, is one of the most single-worthy tracks.
“We’re just two ghosts swimming in a glass half empty / Trying to remember how it feels to have a heartbeat”
Sure, I could get into a debate about whether or not this track is about Taylor Swift. But frankly, that’s been beaten to death at this point and it doesn’t change my opinion on the song. Which is that it’s absolutely heartbreaking. The metaphors in this song really stand out, comparing two people to ghosts without heartbeats, depicting the epitome of emptiness and disappointment of a deteriorating relationship. The lyrics really stand out and speak for themselves with this one.
“But we’re still young / We don’t know where we’re going, but we know where we belong”
If you’re scouring this album looking for a simple, acoustic ballad, this is it. This song radiates sentimentality and pure warmth, despite its somewhat sad tone. It’s a much more innocent take on a relationship compared to the heaviness of “Two Ghosts,” choosing to focus more on the simple beauty and youthfulness of a relationship rather than the possible ending of it. It’s a stand-out ballad that manages to be simple without lacking in substance.
“Couldn’t take you home to mother in a skirt that short / But I think that’s what I like about it”
Fitting with the name, this song starts off slow and angelic before revealing a hidden heavy rock track about 53 seconds in. And then you’ve got to hold on to your hats because you’re in for a wild ride. Although it seems confusing at first, the juxtaposition starts to make sense as you listen to the lyrics. Harry’s version of an angel is not the stereotypical kind, but rather one with a hidden interior. While it’s not as exciting to me as “Carolina” or “Kiwi,” I appreciate this song’s contrast and metaphorical nature nonetheless.
“And now she’s all over me, it’s like I paid for it / It’s like I paid for it / I’m gonna pay for this”
This track is probably the most high-energy song on the album, and it is all the better for it. I saw a review that called it “testosterone-soaked,” and now I can’t think of a better way to describe it. When I first heard this song, I was dumbfounded. I mean, I’m having your baby, it’s none of your business? What? But after the confusion subsided, it easily became one of my favorites on the album. Other higher-intensity songs like “Only Angel” and “Carolina” seem shy compared to the way “Kiwi” jumps out and hits you in the face. However, I’m still confused why it’s called “Kiwi” in the first place.
Ever Since New York
“I’ve been praying, I never did before / Understand I’m talking to the walls / I’ve been praying ever since New York”
Don’t get me wrong, I like every song on this album. But if there is one I’m going to skip, it’s this one. “Ever Since New York” has a similar acoustic vibe to “Sweet Creature,” but without the same lyrical grab. It’s not a bad track by any means, in fact, I really enjoyed the live performance of it on SNL. But the song (perhaps in an attempt at mystery) lacks the imagery and pull of the other nine songs, and feels more like an afterthought than a solid story.
From the Dining Table
“Why won’t you ever be the first one to break? / Even my phone misses your call, by the way”
After all the songs about girls and relationships, we are left with this sad, final track that drips in loneliness and pain. This intimate and stripped-back look into the aftermath of heartbreak is sung in almost a whispering tone, reminiscent of Hozier’s “Cherry Wine” or Bon Ives’s “Flume” (or anything by Bon Iver, to be fair). This song feels like the honest truth about the person who got left out of the happy ending, who took the blame and became the villain. And now they are left hoping that person will call and apologize, but knowing deep down that they have to find a way to move on.
Have you listened to the album? Which songs were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!