December is always a mixed bag when it comes to music. If you’re a fan of Christmas music, great, you’re in heaven. But the saturation of every single car radio and shop speaker with festivity is enough to drive some of us mad.
Unfortunately, I fall into the latter of these categories. So I’m even more thankful that today marks the release of two much-anticipated (non-Christmassy) albums from two massive British stars: Stormzy’s Heavy is the Head, and Harry Styles’ Fine Line. Both albums, which are both artists’ first releases since their last respective albums in 2017, have already received rave reviews from critics.
So I beg all you die-hard Christmas music fans: take a break today and check out these two landmark albums.
Heavy is the Head – Stormzy
Stormzy solidified his status as a British cultural icon with his incredible, history-making Glastonbury performance earlier this year. To say people had high hopes for his second album is a huge understatement.
But my God did he deliver. Heavy is the Head (HITH) is quintessentially Stormzy: consistently flawless flows meet a much-needed critique of Britain, its media, and the dark side of fame. Everything that was so successful on his first album Gang Signs and Prayer has been replicated here. But, of course, he keeps it fresh. HITH sees collaborations with grime sensations Aitch and Headie One, British icon Ed Sheeran, and hugely successful contemporary R&B singer H.E.R..
As many speculated, HITH also appears to shed some light on Stormzy’s shock split from radio presenter and Instagram hit Maya Jama. On Lessons, Stormzy appears to take blame for the split: ‘I done the dirt and then I figured you would dig it out…To be honest if I were you, I’d be unforgiving too’.
Despite the inevitable fan frenzy Lessons will cause, Heavy is the Head will be remembered for so much more. Stormzy retains his crown as the King of UK Grime.
Fine Line – Harry Styles
With a strong four stars accepted amongst critics, Styles’ second album is an objective success – far more so than his first self-titled album released in 2017, which was branded a ‘mish-mash’ by many.
Since the disbandment of One Direction nearly five years ago, Styles has paved his own path as a cultural icon amongst younger generations. His gender-stereotype-defying outfits, eccentric photoshoots and British charm have shaped his identity in the fashion industry and opened infinite doorways.
Musically, though, it always felt like Styles was still trying to find his feet. Fine Line appears to be his breakthrough from this uncertainty.
With its saucy lyrics, retro-rock genre, and cohesivity, Styles second album is hands-down a huge musical success. He combines softness and vulnerability on tracks Falling and Cherry, with an upbeat, pop-funk style on tracks like Watermelon Sugar, Golden, and Adore You.
Fine Line will draw in fans from all kinds of genres and persuasions, and is bound to go down as one of, if not the most, musically successful album of all of the ex-One Direction members. Styles isn’t going anywhere.