Since his departure from British boy band One Direction, Harry Styles has gradually shed his former teenage heartthrob status for an acclaimed, glittering pop persona.
Styles launched his solo career in 2017 with the release of the self-titled album “Harry Styles,” full of pop ballads that drew critical comparison to major stars like David Bowie. His 2019 album “Fine Line,” and his subsequent Love on Tour concert events solidified his fanbase and musical potential.
His latest release, “Harry’s House,” is Styles’ most sonically ambitious yet. In collaboration with Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson, the multi-genre album is eclectic and addictive — a funky combination of pop, rock and R&B. Styles is indulgent as he sings about love, sex, drugs, food and wine for 13 musically appetizing tracks.
Styles kicks off the album with the groovy “Music for a Sushi Restaurant.” It’s upbeat and undisputably fun as he scats over a chorus of horns. Starting the album with the playful lyrics “Green eyes/ fried rice/ I could cook an egg on you,” Styles sets the mischievous, breezy tone to follow. “Late Night Talking” and “Grapejuice” continue a feel-good start to the album.
As the album’s name suggests, many of its tracks reflect on the concept of “home.” In “Late Night Talking,” home is not a physical place, but a loved one. Styles sings, “I'd follow you to any place/ If it's Hollywood or Bishopsgate/ I'm coming too.” Other tracks later on in the album continue this depiction of domestic bliss — the sticky sweet “Daylight” and the hypnotically funky, ‘70s-sounding “Daydreaming” are rosy, casual love stories.
After the grand introduction and “Late Night Talking”, Styles smoothly transitions into the rightfully hit single “As It Was” —with intimate, somber lyrics coated in a danceable beat. He sings “Harry, you're no good alone/ Why are you sitting at home on the floor?/ What kind of pills are you on?” The second person perspective is heartrending, despite the breezy background tune.
Styles, who chose to announce the new album in Better Homes & Gardens magazine, called “Harry’s House” his “most intimate album yet.” The tracks following “As It Was” solidify this.
“Little Freak” draws upon his bittersweet nostalgia for a past relationship. The song's melodic and lyrical choices are reminiscent of popular indie pop artists like Dayglow.
There’s a tenderness throughout the album, but especially on “Matilda,” in which Styles sings words of encouragement to a friend who’s survived family troubles. The sweet, plucky guitar ballad is one of the most emotional on the album.
Styles continues with the gorgeous “Cinema” — a sparkling falsetto over a cool, jazzy track. After “Daydreaming,” he delves into the synthy “Keep Driving,” in which Styles sings a series of domestic imagery —“Black and white film camera/ yellow sunglasses/ ashtray/ swimming pool” and “Maple syrup/ coffee/ pancakes for two.” Styles combines an ode to homey bliss and domestic troubles throughout the airy track.
“Satelite” is an addictive stand out on the album. In an upbeat track with an intense finish, Styles sings about waiting to be with someone. “Boyfriends,” an anthem about disappointing partners, sounds like commiseration with an old friend. With a wistful twang, Styles croons about fruitless cycles in broken relationships. He touches again on domestic life — this time, an unhappy one.
Finally, Styles finishes the album with “Love of my Life,” an ‘80s-sounding ballad to complete his ode to love, indulgence and the meaning of home.
In some ways, “Harry’s House” leaves something to be desired. Underneath funky baselines, the endless lyrical vagueness about eating breakfast or doing cocaine tends to fall flat. While its lyricism is underwhelming at times, the album is a breakthrough for Styles as his most adventurous to date.
Despite its imperfections, it’s still an undeniably fun album. Styles’ heartfelt charisma shines through on the musically decadent album, and allows listeners to leave “Harry’s House” feeling familiar with its writer.