On Friday, the One Direction alum became the fourth One Direction singer to officially embark on his solo career. And after Zayn Malik's R&B stylings, Louis Tomlinson's EDM endeavor and Niall Horan's solemn acoustic medley of lost love, the direction the 23-year-old singer is taking is a bona fide rock anthem.
"Sign of the Times" hits the ears as a reverent study of classic rock balladry (that, dare we say, gives off some light David Bowie vibes), patiently growing from piano crooning to soaring vocals over bombastic riffs and a melancholy guitar solo line.
Styles took a risk here. He could have done a safe, radio-ready pop song -- or worse, botched the execution of this effort with a hacky, stadium rock imitation of the legends he pays homage to on "A Sign of the Times." But the singer-songwriter sounds confident here, coming out with perhaps the most sure-footed effort yet of the divergent Directioners.