HARRY STYLES – HARRY’S HOUSE REVIEW

When One Direction broke up(it’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 years since this happened), it was difficult to predict which member(s) would go on to have a successful solo career. I feel like most people picked Zayn(who had left the group before their last album even came out) and Niall to be the ones that would break through. These two seemed to have the most neutral and adaptable vocal styles of the members that had a devoted solo fan base(no offense to Liam and Louis, but it seems like neither of them was as individually loved as the other three. This is evident from the post One Direction careers). Harry Styles always felt like the dark horse. He had the most unique singing voice, style, and overall image, and it could have been just easy for him to flop as it was to succeed because of this. He was just weird enough that it was possible for the general public to not dig him once he was on his own. Fortunately, he quickly proved he was a star with the release of his 2017 album Harry Styles, which was met with positive reviews. His single ‘Sign of the Times’ from this record became a worldwide hit; it is considered one of the best songs from 2017. As good as Harry Styles was, it felt like he didn’t completely know who he wanted to be as a musician with this album. It is a bit sporadic and not as musically tight as some may have wanted it to be. Harry truly came into his own with the release of his 2019 record Fine Line: this record was met with widespread critical acclaim and is considered one of the essential albums from the 2010s. It draws a lot of influence from 1990s BritPop and 1960s/1970s Rock n Roll, combining these kinds of music into an especial and immersive experience. This record spawned the single ‘Watermelon Sugar,’ which had become one of the most iconic Pop songs in recent memory. All of this acclaim for his music has put a lot of pressure on his newest record. Can he follow up Fine Line with another Pop classic? Here is my opinion on Harry Styles’ new record Harry’s House. Please let me know in the comments below how you feel about this record, and also comment what your favorite songs from it are.

Harry Styles starts the record smooth and funky with the song ‘Music For a Sushi Restaurant.’ It is quickly emerging as a fan favorite, and I would not be surprised if it emerges as a sleeper hit later this year. The song starts with a quirky keyboard synth riff that has a Japanese Disco feeling to it. The melody for the rest of the song is derived from this riff, though the actual keyboard synth from the beginning of the song quickly fades into the background. The verses are driven by a groovy bass guitar melody, and the chorus opens up with a bunch of horn instruments that give the song a major 70s Funk feeling. This instrumental feels so inspired by artists like Chic or Prince. Harry’s vocals on this song are so fun, and they go with the energy of the song so well. He shows off his range on this track, hitting high notes that accentuate the funky nature of it so well. Everything about this song, including Harry’s vocals, feels like an old-school dance party. In ‘Music For a Sushi Restaurant,’ Harry is comparing making sushi to his love for his significant other. He relates the tenderness and care that it takes to make sushi to what it takes to make a relationship work. The dance party continues with the song ‘Late Night Talking.’ It is another song quickly emerging as a fan favorite; for me, it is probably the best Pop single of the year so far(except for maybe The Weeknd’s smash ‘Out of Time’). It does have a Disco base like the song that precedes it, but it takes on a different sort of Disco sound. This track has a bright and colorful Disco sound that will make anyone want to dance. The instrumental reminds me a lot of artists like Kool and the Gang or KC and the Sunshine Band. Harry uses a husky and sultry vocal tone on this track, and it gives the song such a romantic feeling. In ‘Late Night Talking,’ Harry is singing about a new significant other in his life that he can’t get out of his head. All he wants to do is spend time with this person because they make him so happy. Harry brings the Funk in yet another way with the third song, ‘Grapejuice.’ This track is driven by a simple and smooth keyboard melody set over the type of far-out bass line that gives a listener a “stank face” when they hear it. I like the bevy of string instruments that come in as the song progresses(they are particularly prevalent in the chorus). They give the song much-needed layers to keep it from sounding too one-dimensional. I also enjoy the effects sprinkled over the vocals through this song a lot, as they give the song more of a 1970s than it already had. On ‘Grapejuice,’ compares drinking a bottle of wine to being with his lover. This person helps him not think about the daily stresses of his life, and being with them is almost like being in a euphoric dream where everything is ok. Following this, we get the lead single for this record, ‘As It Was.’ This is a little departure from the 1960s and 1970s-inspired music that we have grown accustomed to hearing from Harry. I guess it does have a bit of a 1960s Pop-Rock feeling, but it reminds me much more of 2000s Indie Pop Rock. Specifically, it reminds me of bands like Postal Service or The Strokes. This is a fast-paced Pop rock song with a light and fluttery piano riff that drives the melody. The rest of the instrumental has a distinctive retro Indie-Rock to its tone and feeling. Harry provides light and airy vocals over this instrumental, giving it a fun and vibrant feeling. It is the kind of song that makes one want to run and frolic through a field of flowers. Though the tone of ‘As It Was’ is so bright and friendly, lyrically it is downtrodden and sad. Harry is singing about feeling lonely, reminiscing on past relationships with longing for that feeling again. 

‘Daylight’ is another song that has more modern production than what we may expect from Harry Styles. This one keeps the Funk theme from the first few songs but brings in an ultra-modern element. The instrumental is very full of synths and it is very fuzzy and distorted. It kind of feels like a more Poppy and palatable version of music by Future-Funk artists like Gibbz or The Floozies(look them up if you dig this song). Harry goes a light and breathy tone to his vocals, which creates a nice contrast with the bold nature of the instrumental. In ‘Daylight,’ Harry is singing about how he tried his hardest to get his former partner to stay as their feelings faded for him. As he did everything he could to get them to pay attention to him, they were more concerned with doing the drugs they obtained together. In the next song, ‘Little Freak,’ Harry follows the formula a lot of Pop artists in the last couple of years have gone with. This song has a synth-heavy sound that reminds me a lot of 80s New Wave music. Two things that stand out amongst other artists who use that sound and this song are the pacing of the song and the acoustic instruments sprinkled in. I love the slow tempo of this song, as it makes the synths feel extra warm. Also, the acoustic guitar bits that come in and out are very nice too. Harry uses a lower and husky vocal style that goes with the deep nature of the instrumental very well. In ‘Little Freak, Harry is talking about a previous relationship that just didn’t work out. He is reminiscing on the good times he had with this person and remembering how nice it was to be with them. Harry slows it down even more with the next song, which is called ʼMatilda.’ This song is super low-key and soft; the instrumental is made up of a twangy guitar riff which is complemented by a sweet little keyboard riff. The instrumentation on this song has a traditional Folk feeling to it. This song reminds me a lot of artists like Bob Dylan or Van Morrison. Vocally, Harry flexes his chops on this track. He hits beautifully high-pitched notes I did not know he could reach throughout the song. In ‘Matilda,’ Harry is singing to and about someone whose own family hurt them and let them down. It is about trying to navigate through life without those people that are always supposed to be a part of your foundation. I think this song will end up being a sleeper hit, as it is just so beautifully performed and written and has a concept that unfortunately, so many people can relate to. Harry brings the mood back up and speeds the pace back up with the next song, ‘Cinema.’ This track has such a funky, fun feeling. It honestly sounds like it came right out of the 1970s; it is another song that reminds me so much of artists like Chic. The bass line and distorted guitar riff paired with this beat just make me want to dance as soon as the song comes on; ‘Cinema’ has the kind of sound that makes you move. When I hear this track, I think of being at the club on a hot summer night dancing the night away under a disco ball. This is yet another song where the vocals are excellent. The way they are layered adds the perfect amount of extra flavor to the track. Some of the high, raspy notes he hits towards the end of the song are just awesome. In ‘Cinema,’ Harry is singing about being infatuated with a new person. You can feel his admiration for this person in the way he sings this song.

Like so many songs on this record, ‘Daydreaming’ is one that brings the funk in such a big way. It’s driven by a super groovy bass line and beat that will make anyone want to dance when they hear it. This song has a more full Disco Pop sound that is similar to the song ‘Music For a Sushi Restaurant.’ The instrumental is littered with multiple horns and a guitar that make the track sound so grand. It also seems like my analysis of his singing is becoming mundane, but Harry’s vocals are so great on this song. Throughout ‘Daydreaming,’ he hits these high notes with a power and raspiness to his voice that add so much to the track. In ‘Daydreaming,’ Harry seems to be singing about the same relationship as the one in ‘Cinema.’ It is about a new, sexy relationship that almost feels like it isn’t real. Harry slows the tempo and calms the mood down with the next song, ‘Keep Driving.’ It has a Synth-Pop sound that feels like it came right from the 1980s. The sweet and sultry mood the synths on this song have reminds me of New Wave artists like The Romantics. I love when the keyboard kicks in during the chorus, as it gives the song warmth. Harry uses soft and dainty vocals on this one that go with the sweet nature of the instrumental well. In ‘Keep Driving,’ Harry is talking about driving away from your problems instead of dealing with them. The next track, which is called ‘Satellite,’ is another that shows off the versatility of Harry. This is a song that brings in a sound that we have not seen on this album yet. ‘Satellite,’ has an Alternative Rock thing going that reminds me a lot of music from the early 2010s. It reminds me of the kind of music that one would hear in a Hollister or American Eagle store during this time period. The song has a fast pace and is driven by a squeaky clean lead guitar riff that makes me think of bands like Phoenix. Harry goes with high-pitched vocals on this track that go with the melody very well. I enjoyed the falsettos he hit in on this song a lot. On ‘Satellite,’ Harry is singing about feeling like he is more into someone than they are into him. He feels like this person is not reciprocating his affection for them. 

‘Boyfriends’ is a song that sonically reminds me a lot of ‘Matilda.’ It has an acoustic sound to it that is very reminiscent of old-school Folk music. The song is driven by a beautiful and soft acoustic guitar riff that goes very well with Harry’s voice. Speaking of Harry’s voice, I love how they are layered on this track. “Boyfriends’ has a lot of warmth and depth to the way it sounds because of how good Harry’s vocals are and the way that they are layered. This song has such a nice and pretty feeling because of the combination of the riff and singing. In ‘Boyfriends,’ Harry is singing about women around him he has seen get mistreated by their boyfriends. He does not like the way he sees the women that surround him in his life get treated by the people they choose to be with. The album closes out with the song ‘Love of my Life.’ This is one of the most unique-sounding songs on the record; the way it is produced stands out from the rest of the album. The beginning of the song almost has a neo-R&B sound to it. It is driven by a loud, blaring, warm synth melody that has so much bass and depth. As the song progresses, it picks up speed and gains a lot of interesting sound effects in the background. About halfway through the song, the drums get louder and pick up, giving this song an added element that is needed. Also, as the song goes on, some other instruments, such as a piano, become more prevalent and give the song more depth. I love the deep and cozy nature of Harry’s vocals on this song, as they go with the sound of the instrumental well. This song has such a raw and intimate feeling. In ‘Love of my Life,’ Harry has stated that he is singing about his home country, England. It is an ode to the place he is from that he loves a lot. He regrets that he does not get to spend nearly as much time as he wants to in England because of his career. 

I have to say, I went into this album with considerably high expectations. After how much I enjoyed his album Fine Line, I wanted this album to be great. 2022 has been a year that has blessed us with so many awesome music records, and Harry’s House is another exceptional one. This album is so vibrant, colorful, deep, and fun. It makes the listener want to dance, laugh, and cry all in 42 minutes. It is so cool how Harry can hit on so many emotions in less than an hour. One of the biggest highlights of this record is Harry’s vocal performance. I knew that Harry could sing, but I did not know he could sing like this. His vocals throughout this record are excellent and need to be commended. I also want to shout out the production of this record. Everything is arranged so cleanly, and honestly, the album progresses in an almost perfect way. In Harry’s House, Harry Styles shows why he is one of the best Pop stars on the planet. I know for a fact this will be one of the albums I play on repeat this summer, and I believe Harry’s House will be a prominent summer album in my rotation for many years to come.

FAVORITE TRACKS – MUSIC FOR A SUSHI RESTAURANT, LATE NIGHT TALKING, GRAPEJUICE, AS IT WAS, MATILDA, CINEMA, DAYDREAMING, KEEP DRIVING, SATELLITE, LOVE OF MY LIFE

9.1/10

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