Formerly a member of British pop sensation One Direction, Harry Styles released his first solo studio album, “Harry Styles,” on May 12. Stepping away from his earlier boy band stardom has led Styles to makes his first real attempt at developing into a bona fide rock star. He uses his newfound freedom and space to create a comprehensive project showcasing his range of vocal talents through ballads and passionate rock anthems. With hit single “Sign of the Times” already topping the charts, Styles’ album is forecasted to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Fans are already loving the artist’s first showing, and critics have cited the ‘70s-influenced album as showing promise for the future. One thing is for sure — Harry Styles, as his own solo entity, has arrived and is here to stay.
Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band, the maker of famous tunes like “Chicken Fried” and “Toes,” returns to its roots with the traditional country sounds that first brought the band to fame in 2008. “Welcome Home” is a great bounce back from “Jekyll + Hyde” in 2015, which received mixed reviews due to its non-cohesive sound. Although producing a more purely country sound on “Welcome Home” than it has in past albums, the band includes elements of pop and rock for its mainstream fan base. Zac Brown Band maintains the familiar feel of a laid-back summer afternoon in its latest music, providing comfort and relaxation to listeners and appealing to a wide variety of audiences.
In his third studio album, rapper Logic shows off his lyrical dexterity and rapid flows. Focused heavily on sociopolitical issues and preaching self-confidence, “Everybody” stays true to what Logic’s loyal fans have come to love and expect. He also approaches new fans with radio-ready hits like “1-800-273-8255,” which features popular singer-songwriters Alessia Cara and Khalid and maintains a positive message — in this case, encouraging others to choose life over suicide. Although receiving some negative reviews from hip-hop critics, the album’s success is immediately evident, gracing Logic with his first No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200. In a recent interview with online media base Genius, Logic said that his upcoming fourth album will likely be his last — a finale to his cohesive series of projects promoting uplifting messages in today’s hip-hop culture. With it, Logic hopes to cement a place as one of the great lyricists of his generation.
After a six-year hiatus, British virtual band Gorillaz emerged with its fifth studio album, “Humanz,” an animated journey through its fictional universe, featuring rising artists like Vince Staples, Danny Brown and D.R.A.M. The band’s trademark gloomy sound fits perfectly with its theme of disconsolation, as the release is largely inspired by discontent surrounding Trump’s presidency, according to collaborator Pusha T in an appearance on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 Radio. The mechanical sounds of synths and deep bass push listeners through an unfamiliar world where the artists’ animated selves reign. Although not full of happy summer anthems, “Humanz” is a compelling album with a variety of influential contributors, providing plenty of insightful commentary on modern political culture.