There are many surprises in Harry Style’s new single, ‘Sign of the Times’ – the most anticipated solo debut since Zayn Malik’s reasonably credible album, Mind of Mine.

Malik’s album had Frank Ocean-esque electro throbs and a superb falsetto. Even if it was a bit boring at times, it was undoubtedly ‘cool’. Unlike Malik whose music is sitting snuggly in chart territory, Styles has bravely gone against the current. His new single sounds like someone has thrown Chris Martin, David Bowie and Queen in a big stew pot, which is then left to slow cook for an uncomfortable amount of time. Is that a bad thing? Depends if you like soggy stew.

The track opens with a melancholic piano, which reminded me of Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’. When the chorus kicks in, cheesy power chords and 80-esque drum beats erupt. ‘We got to get away from here’ sings Styles in is soft, gruff voice. His voice is the most redemptive element of the song. And to be honest, we all knew that he had the best voice in One Direction so it was pretty much guaranteed that, even if the production choices of the single were poor, the voice would save it.

Undoubtedly, ‘Sign of the Times’ will be top of the charts because Styles is Styles. Yet, just because you buy a song it doesn’t necessarily mean you like it.

VERDICT: Pensive, emotional escapism is a brave subject-matter for a single debut. In that way, Harry Style’s new single isn’t bad, but it isn’t out of this world either (as much as it likes to think it is with an excessive running time of nearly six minutes). If it was a colour it would be beige. Safe but lacking vibrancy – the true sign of our times.

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