By Rami Abou-Sabe
Turn this one up, and transport yourself back to the mid-Sixties.
The Beatles were the biggest band on earth, Lyndon B. Johnson was President, and the United States had just entered the Vietnam War. By 1965, Lennon-McCartney had racked up a string of hits, culminating with number-ones “Ticket to Ride,” and “Help!”
While the Beatles’ brand of jangly rhythm & blues was dominating the charts, the fab four were beginning to outgrow their mop-top beginnings and embrace an edgier, more experimental sound.
Weary of constant touring and looking for a change, the group entered the studio in October of ’65 without any major commitments or time constraints. What resulted was Rubber Soul. Hailed as a major turning point in the group’s storied career, Rubber Soul found the pop musicians experimenting both lyrically and sonically.
Looking back on the album now, it’s a remarkable time capsule that represents a band in transition, sounding equally at home with the disparate albums that preceded and followed.
Fast forward to 2017 and “Carolina” is the latest single from former One Direction star Harry Styles. Styles’ previous solo releases – the Bowie-inspired “Sign of the Times,” and plucky acoustic number “Sweet Creature” – drew immediate comparisons to classic rock, but “Carolina” takes the genre-mining to a whole new level.
Pulling equally from early and late-era Beatles, Styles effortlessly reimagines the carefree “Ticket to Ride” with falsetto harmonies and fuzzy guitar hits, while paying homage to Sgt. Peppers‘ era experimentalism with the “A Day in the Life” inspired outro.
The young artist still has a long career ahead of him, but if Styles’ self-titled debut is any indication the former One Directioner has shaken his early pop-star beginnings for a matured, nuanced sound.
Hear Styles’ “Carolina” below, and check out his debut solo album, Harry Styles, here.