Harry Styles, ‘Harry’s House’: Album Review

Since the release of his debut solo single “Sign of The Times”, Harry Styles has made it clear that (one) direction he will take inspiration from classic rock music. McCartney-meet-Queen’s power ballad is just a starting point — a hallmark of tastes broader than his days as One Directioner. All the while, he remained the fluid genre, experimenting with psych-pop, funk, folk and indie-rock, but maintaining a pop ethos that would make the Beatles proud.

Bringing up comparisons to modern-day Mick Jagger (he even depicts him on Saturday night live), Harry Styles has established himself as the elegant rock star of the pop world. It’s not just his talent: His charm, his swagger. and kindness sets him apart from predecessors like Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake, who have secured a following with fuccboi culture. It’s no shame he’s a style icon (king of glittery jumpsuits), able to command the stage with his hip wiggles and use his platform to champion the community. LGBTQ+, including waving gay pride flags at his sold-out arena tours. He breaks gender norms, he respects and treats his fans like friends. And it’s not just a stick. Authenticity is undeniable.

If Styles’ 2019 album Shape is about sex and sadness, Harry’s House is a fascinating blend of sex, sadness, love, self-destruction and regret — chaos swirling in his mind. On the album’s lead single “As It Was”, he battles the latter in a plea that confesses to himself “Answer the phone / Harry, you’re no good alone / Why are you sitting at home on the floor? / What drugs do you have on top?”

Harry Styles
(Credit: Lillie Eiger)

While opening the front door of his yellow house, he darted forward from ’70s tinged Fine to ’80s new wave, tearing a page out of Prince’s books. In the flamboyant opening “Music for the Sushi Restaurant,” Styles leads Purple One with a fun fake voice and dramatic rock chorus, while contemplating green eyes, fried rice, sweet ice cream and “The blue bubble twists the tip of your tongue. The stern pop song “Late Night Talking” captures an endearing style in one of his most tender moments. “If you’re feeling down/I just want to make you happier baby,” he says. He explores his desires with the vague, fleeting “Grapejuice” as he celebrates the simple moments of sharing a 1982 red bottle with a shopkeeper. “Nothing gets through / Without you / A bottle of rouge / Just you and me,” he confessed. The ecstasy of “Daylight” leaves Styles grappling with the confusing emotional territory of a crush. “If I were a blue bird, I’d fly to you / You’d be the spoon / Dip you in honey / So I can stick with you,” he sings in a playful voice. With guitarist John Mayer backing up, the fun-filled “Cinema” becomes a daring counterpart to “Watermelon Road”. You’ve got the cinema / I bring pop music to the cinema,” he teased.

Harry’s House also opens a window for a glimpse into his LA lifestyle. Thrilling, space-faring “Keep Driving” is one of the most vulnerable moments on record as Styles churns out a blockbuster about his Hollywood escapades. “Cocaine, a cheater, a joker with a sea view,” he recalls. Synth-pop giant “Satellite” claims he’s “in the LA mood” with a standout hit that gives “Happier Than Ever” a run for the money.

A nod to Japanese pop artist Haruomi Hosono, who had an album in the 70s called Hosono’s house, Harry’s House there are several moments that evoke the acoustic scene of the Laurel Canyon period. In the introspective, introspective ballad “Little Freak,” Styles expresses a profound sense of self-awareness about her missteps with her ex. “I don’t respect you / Jump with my front foot and I land too hard,” he sings. In an interview with Zane Lowe, Styles envisioned “Matilda” as a personalized version of the classic Roald Dahl character as an adult. While he jokes about who actually inspired “Matilda,” it’s a great acoustic tribute to finding a family chosen as the highlight of the album.

The style continues to lean towards the sparse arrangement with “Boyfriends,” evoking the delicate vocals of Simon and Garfunkel. On it, he vaguely laments his boyfriend “taking you for granted”. As a grand finale, Styles makes a poignant statement about letting “the gone” go with “the love of my life”. It is an offer of absolute vulnerability for an artist who is more than caught off guard.

Harry’s House authentically reinforces Styles’ signature sensibility and shows he’s more than earned his place as one of music’s most innovative artists. More importantly, he reminds us that he’s a pop star who plays by his own rules — and he’s here for the long haul.

https://www.spin.com/2022/05/harry-styles-harrys-house-album-review/ Harry Styles, ‘Harry’s House’: Album Review

Emma James

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