REVIEW: “Harry’s House” reveals a unexpected, confident and ultra-pop version of Harry Styles

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erintheredmc via Wikipedia Commons

Harry Styles third album introduces a 80’s pop and indie vibe.

Makenna Leiby, A&E Editor

The long-awaited follow-up to Harry Styles’ grammy-nominated “Fine Line” has finally graced streaming platforms, and its lead single “As It Was” set the stage for “Harry’s House,” encapsulating the phrase “not the same as it was.” 

Styles’s previous albums were surely no indicator of what was to follow; while self-titled “Harry Styles” and “Fine Line” are undeniably inspired by heartbreaks or familial losses, “Harry’s House” strays far from any specific genre or obvious themes. 

Sophomore, and avid Styles fan, Natalie Weyrick observed the clear difference between Styles’ previous works and this album, “Harry’s House” is such an amazing album because not only is the music good and perfect for the summertime, but the vibe is so different from any of Harry’s other albums.” 

Tracks like “Cinema” and “Late Night Talking” make it clear that Styles is in love, with “Cinema” being a subtle nod to his movie producer girlfriend, Olivia Wilde. However, the light-hearted beats and silly background vocals reveal that Styles is in a seemingly care-free period of adulthood where he is satisfied with a sweet, simple love rather than previous all-consuming romances. 

Styles’s third studio album had big shoes to fill after “Fine Line” broke records and declared Styles a worthy musician outside of former boyband One Direction. Styles’s care-free attitude reflects his expectations for the album: He told Better Homes and Gardens he does not feel like “life is over if this album isn’t a commercial success.” 

Styles is increasingly aware of his dedicated fan base and took their undenying support as an opportunity to explore creative avenues previously labeled as risks. The singer told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, “I think there was something in doing the tour and people coming and dancing and having a good time made me feel like, ‘OK, you just want me to make what I want to make.’” 

The majority of Styles’s fans were campaigning for a classic rock album to carry out Mitch Rowland’s famous guitar riffs in “She,” but Styles took creative liberties and drifted more towards the style of his 2019 single “Treat People With Kindness” to create a completely unexpected ‘80s to indie pop album. 

For some fans this decision was a disappointment, but for most, only a simple mindset change was necessary to recognize the record’s beauty. 

Weyrick felt fully immersed into every song on “Harry’s House”, but a select few stuck out as her go-tos, “My favorite songs on the album would probably be “Little Freak”, “Matilda”, “Boyfriends” and “Cinema,” she said. 

Styles embodied his title as the modern Mick Jagger with an early ‘80s-esque use of synths and organs on tracks like “Music For a Sushi Restaurant” and “Grapejuice.” Styles’s indie pop style emerges in “Keep Driving” and “Daylight.” 

“Keep Driving” is the perfect example of Styles’ transition to lyrica; emphasis in this third album. The song features a mundane beat with comically ironic lyrics like “tea with cyborgs” and “choke her with a sea view” that keep listeners hooked. 

While for the most part this album presented a whole new Styles, there are a few hidden details that remind fans he is still the eccentric presence they love. Styles, unintentionally, has mentioned dozens of fruits throughout his entire discography, specifically in songs like “Kiwi” and “Watermelon Sugar.” The pattern of food references continued with “Grapejuice” and lyrics “fried rice, I could cook an egg on you.” 

Most excitingly, the raspy outbreaks in the background of “Kiwi” make a secretive return in “Cinema.” The song uses film and movie theater snacks to discretely metaphorize sexual experiences, which Styles has become more comfortable with admitting to. 

Better Homes and Gardens perfectly summarized the experiences that pushed Styles into the corner of sexual shame, “He thought about the journalists asking questions, when he was still a teenager, about how many people he’d slept with and how, rather than telling them to go away, he would worry about how he could be coy without them leaving the room annoyed. ‘Why do I feel like I’m the one who has done something wrong?’”

In “Harry’s House,” Styles is finally able to embrace and enjoy his sexuality, and makes clear in multiple songs a fraction of his life’s purpose is to please– a subtle nod to his cosmetic company Pleasing. 

Themes of casual love and sexaulity take up the majority of the thirteen song album, but the unforeseen topic of familial abuse makes its mark in “Matilda.” Styles uses Roald Dahl’s character as a figure-head to show support for fans with household trauma. And though the substance of the song is mutually exclusive to those with painful childhood memories, the lyric “you don’t have to be sorry for leaving and growing up” is universally applicable. 

The presence of a family-oriented tune gives reason to the album’s title, and Styles extends the domestic themes into “As It Was” and “Love of My Life.” The first words spoken in “As It Was” are derived from a voicemail from Styles’s goddaughter, Ruby Winston, in which she says, “come on Harry, we want to say goodnight to you.” Furthermore, “Love of My Life” is supposedly about the musician’s ties to his hometown in England. 

The intimacy of these moments truly invites listeners into Harry’s home. 

For some fans who have been living in “Harry’s House” for quite some time, “Satellite” is a likely unintentional homage to One Direction. The record would fit seamlessly into One Direction’s final album “Made in The AM.” 

“Harry’s House” unveils a fresh Styles who is content with life and successful enough to freely experiment with his music. The tone is surprising, and while some fans might need time to adjust, the album makes clear that Styles is more than a pretty face – he also knows his way around a music studio.