One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles on Friday released a ballad with touches of 1970s glam rock as he became the latest member of the boy band to go solo.

"Sign of the Times" is the first solo single by the 23-year-old English singer who is expected to put out a full album at a later date.

The song starts with a dark chord progression on a piano before quickly building power as Styles shifts his voice into higher range.

Drums and organ give way to electric guitar riffs on a grandiose chorus with clear influences of late legend David Bowie's early glam rock and, to some extent, Queen.

But unlike the path-breaking Bowie, lyrically Styles keeps things simple with a chorus that goes, "Just stop your crying / It's a sign of the times," although the context of the sorrow is unspecified.

At around five and a half minutes, "Sign of the Times" comes off as a statement by Styles on a new artistic direction after the succinct pop ditties of One Direction.

Styles, thin like Bowie with flowing hair, becomes the latest singer to go solo from One Direction, which went on indefinite hiatus in 2015 after five years of packing in stadiums with screaming pre-teens.

Most prominently, Zayn Malik -- who left One Direction amid a rift -- has found success with a solo career in which he has parted with the boy band's squeaky-clean image for a sultry sound and style driven by R&B.

Niall Horan went in a different path when he put out a solo single last year, going for stripped-down acoustic pop.

Styles worked on "Sign of the Times" with prominent US producer Jeff Bhasker, a frequent collaborator of rap superstar Kanye West who has also gone to the studio with Taylor Swift -- whom Styles used to date.

Record label Columbia said Styles would later this month release a video for the song shot on Scotland's Isle of Skye by French director Yoann Lemoine, who has worked with Swift and Katy Perry.

"Sign of the Times" has no obvious connection to a song of a similar title by Prince, a dark 1987 take on AIDS, drug abuse and other social ills.