Harry Styles is one of those rare artists that you don’t really know how much you’ve missed until they launch into a new album era. The announcement for his third record titled ‘Harry’s House’ pulled me out of the monotonous funk of my work shift as I started freaking out to my coworkers who for some reason acted like it was no big deal. After taking the world by storm with his pop-dominated ‘Fine Line’ era which consisted of multiple hit singles, Styles returned not with the interest to expand on that sound but rather to craft what is undeniably the most authentic record he’s put out yet. ‘Harry’s House’ successfully manages to capture the rawness and folky sound of his debut album along with the pop aesthetic and storytelling of ‘Fine Line’ to create an emotionally raw, abstract and colourful musical vision board inspired by seventies pop culture. This is without a doubt the most Harry Styles, Harry Styles has ever been and it is a goddamn joy. It feels like he perfected the concept that he’s been building toward even if it’s at times self-indulgent and repetitive.
Opening with the funky, bright and colourful ‘Music For a Sushi Restaurant’, it is immediately clear that this album is going to be chock-full of personality and it makes sense considering Styles is inviting you over to his house. It’s essentially an extension of himself as it details what he considers home in a story about love, sex and belonging. It is a brilliant continuation of the storyline ‘Fine Line’ set up and a much more mature one at that. Styles opts for a much more abstract and concept-heavy approach to not only the storytelling but also the tone. One of the shining aspects of this record is that it is incredibly cohesive. From the meticulously titled tracklist to how sonically, the album uses one sound and reinvents it with each song. It’s a perfect summer album, it radiates the colour yellow so eloquently, it’s bright, fun and introspective but at the very end hopeful and content. If there is one thing Harry Styles can do, it is create a specific tone and motif for every album he makes, this is perhaps his strongest suit yet and it comes with both a rewarding factor and a flaw. It’s very rewarding in the sense that it has immense replay value but on the other hand, when an album sticks to one sound and doesn’t really venture out, it tends to be less exciting and inventive.
The best way to describe ‘Harry’s House’ is that even though it is arguably his weakest album, it features some of his best work to date, even if it never reaches the highs of his debut and sophomore album, at least not sonically. It feels like the problems of ‘Fine Line’ got swapped and thus ‘Harry’s House’ was created. In my review for that album, I noted how the repetitive nature of the lyrics got old at times but it was made up for with the great instrumentation carrying it. Here, however, Styles’ lyricism is on full display and is better than ever. The abstract approach here really makes for some great lyrics in tracks like ‘Music For a Sushi Restaurant’, ‘Grapejuice’, ‘Cinema’ and especially ‘Keep Driving’. He keeps painting pictures in your head, pictures that evoke very specific emotions. His greatest songwriting achievement however lies in the track ‘Matilda‘, where he comforts a girl who is moving on from a toxic household and starting a life on her own. The simple instrumentation makes way for Styles and his gentle delivery as he details the pain and guilt of leaving your family and instils hope and light in Matilda to look forward to the beginning of the rest of her life. I love and adore this track and it’s easily the best song he’s ever written. Words cannot express how glad I am this song exists. The lyricism is in my opinion what carries the album as musically, every single track is in the same realm. The songs almost bleed into one another which makes it addictive to listen to for a while until it starts getting old.
The night of this album’s release, I listened to it for the first time and then once again immediately after. I have rinsed this album an alarming amount of times. I have specific areas and roads attached to certain songs on the album because I would listen to the entire thing on my way to work. It is a damn fact that the entire thing is going to show up on my Spotify Wrapped, I guarantee it. However, with the more time passes, the more I start listening to it as background noise instead of an actual album. The album is in its nature a very chill, roll down your windows while driving at night type of album. It’s a vibe emitter if you will. There is this missing edge that was heavily present in both ‘Harry Styles’ and ‘Fine Line’ and it’s largely due to the fact that big, climactic moments of most of the songs are given to the production and instrumentation. For example, in the track ‘Satellite‘, the huge, grand production doesn’t match Styles’ vocal delivery outside of a high note here and there and it is repetitive as hell. It lacks a certain urgency from Styles which in the end makes the songs feel like there’s something missing. The same goes for the final track ‘Love Of My Life’ where vocally he doesn’t really go anywhere post-bridge and considering it’s the final track, it was slightly disappointing. This is why ‘Daydreaming‘ is one of my favourite tracks because his vocal delivery matches the build-up of the production, he gives some power to his voice and it helps the song out massively.
In the end, my stay at ‘Harry’s House’ proved to be a massive success as I kept revisiting over and over again until it started to feel a bit too familiar. That being said, it’s definitely a place I can go back to and appreciate when the time comes. It’s the record I listened to the most this year and it’s easily one of my new comfort albums as well. Even though I don’t particularly think it’s as strong as his other two albums, it’s actually the one where every single song does something for me which I can’t say for the other two. It’s unique in that sense and it works as a unit more than the others. Overall it’s an album I will be revisiting constantly even if I do take long breaks from it and I think there’s something commendable about that.
1. Late Night Talking
4. Little Freak
5. Keep Driving
7. Love Of My Life
8. Music For A Sushi Restaurant
11. As It Was
‘Harry’s House’ is available to stream now. It is also available on CD, Vinyl and Cassette on the official Harry Styles store.