Tracey: Like Samson on Opposite Day, Harry Styles gets more talented the more sensible his haircuts get. I know what you’re thinking: “Oooh, 1D, eeewww, haven’t you outgrown them yet?” But hear me out! “Sign of the Times” is a MATURE album. Like, ‘masturbation-references’ mature. And how epic is that apocalyptic title track? But the mood is not all “The End is Nigh.” If the times are a-changing, Harry’s throwing a party about it, and we’re all invited! Favorite moments: the folksy goofing of “Carolina” and the sexy strutting of “Only Angel”. Also worthwhile: the Lou-Reed-on-morphine confessions of “Meet Me in the Hallway”and “From the Dining Table.” (Are those songs about Taylor Swift? Hmmm!) Ok, maybe Harry’s not living hard enough to sell us the rougher material. He’s too smart to get hooked on morphine, wouldn’t you guys say?
Trent: Hey, did anyone see any pigs flying out the window? There were no pigs? Well, until we get some of those, the only “Sign o’ the Times” on my Spotify is a little album by a certain Prince. Suck my 1 D, Harry!
Grandpa Felicius: A new David Bowie LP! I’m relieved to see good Major Tom’s undeterred by such a minor inconvenience as his mortality.
Beatricia: A little Bowie here, a little Jagger there, Paul McCartney everywhere, and a dash of Elton John on top. This One Direction defector is so desperate to prove his playlist contains material from before 2012, that he fails to realize how tired his points of reference are. Being influenced by the Beatles isn’t a sign of having musical taste; it’s just a sign of having functional ears and having spent some time on Planet Earth. The true luminary here is producer and collaborator Jeff Bhasker, who gave the band Fun. (with a dot) anthemic heft in tracks like “Carry On” and “We Are Young.” That’s a man who relishes going through the “70s-sounds” checklist.
Cousin Franz: “Sign of the Times” is an amiable album from an ex-boy-bander who is, indeed, desperate to showcase his love for Ziggy Stardust and Captain Fantastic and Jumping Jack Flash – and, less successfully, to position himself as an heir to the entirety of the classic rock pantheon. The problem is that there’s a slight difference between a “good song” and a “song that is reminiscent of a good song.” Is that “Blackbird” you hear at the beginning of “Sweet Creature”? Yes, and since “Blackbird” is a good song, you might well be tricked into thinking that “Sweet Creature” is a good song, until you hear Styles’ pained attempts to keep “Creature” from sounding like “Critter.” Practically every one of these sound-alikes contains a failed/mixed metaphor that flops down onstage like a fish with the flu. Take “you can’t bribe the door on the way to the sky.” That’s ALMOST good, except, of course, all doors are unbribable by nature. Styles, (like ex-designated-bud Zayn Malik, and Justin Timberlake before them), is criticism proof, and the admiring hordes of 12-year-old girls probably react to a T-Rex clone as though it IS an original song anyway.
Trent: T-Rex Clone?!? What what?
Cousin Franz: T-Rex the band. Not the hideous dinosaur with tiny hands.
Trent: Donald Trump?!? What what?
Hank: What grinchery and snobbery! As Styles himself astutely pointed out when chatting with Cameron Crowe on “Rolling Stone”: Who says that 12-year-old girls don’t have good taste in music?
Trent: Everybody. It’s a fact. They don’t.
Beatricia: It’s true, Hanky, it’s true. They just don’t.
Grandpa Felicius: Terrible taste. Wouldn’t know a flute from a fish with the flu.
Hank: Enough with the fish with the flu! Why not give poor Harry a fair shake? “Sign of the Times” is approximately 500 times better than anyone could expect from a former “X-Factor”contestant. “Woman” may even sound like John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” as filtered through “Benny and the Jets.” What’s better than that? Tracey, kiddo, apologies for that time I avoided driving you to the 1D concert by telling you our van had a “distended exhaust alternator.” That turned out to be a lie.
Tracey: *gasp* The whole WORLD is a lie! Only Harry Styles understands me! And possibly James McAvoy and Jason Momoa!
Blurbarella: “Harry Styles gets– MATURE– on the way to–chatting with– 12-year-old girls– that turned out to be– James McAvoy and Jason Momoa.”
3 out of 6 Cherries