On May 20, after almost three years of anticipation from fans and casual listeners, Harry Styles finally released his third studio album, “Harry’s House.” I have been waiting for this album since he teased it back in early April with his “You Are Home” promotional campaign on Instagram and Twitter, with the mysterious doors that would open each day to reveal a clue about what was in store for this new era. I’ve been a huge fan of Harry since his days in One Direction and have enjoyed getting to see him grow into his own person and his voice as an artist. He has really blazed his own path in the music industry and created his own identity for himself as a solo artist. His first solo record, simply self titled, “Harry Styles,” was very much a soft pop-rock record that explored different aspects of love and heartbreak. He followed that album two years later with “Fine Line,” an incredibly well produced body of work that mixed sounds of psychedelic 70s and early 80s pop and rock with aspects of rock from his first album. Now with “Harry’s House,” he’s begun to embrace some of the synth pop of the early 80s as he continues exploring the funkier 70s sound he had on “Fine Line,” while also showing his vulnerability as an artist.
The first single, “As It Was,” was released on April 1, 2022 after being teased for weeks and it was everything I could’ve hoped for. I remember listening to it for the first time in the car and that was probably the best way to experience it. It has this bittersweet nostalgia kind of vibe, that makes you long for times long gone but also being able to accept the present and the idea of new love. The lyrics go from ruminating on the past and feeling stuck in the moment, especially in the second verse with the lyrics, “Answer the phone / Harry, you’re no good alone / Why are you sitting at home on the floor? / What kind of pills are you on? / Ringin’ the bell / And nobody’s coming to help / Your daddy lives by himself / He just wants to know that you’re well, oh-oh-oh.” Ultimately, it goes into being about acceptance and growing with time and seeing where the future might take you and the hope and growth in moving on of a new relationship. This is demonstrated in my favorite part of the song, the bridge, “Go home, get ahead, light-speed internet / I don’t wanna talk about the way that it was / Leave America, two kids follow her / I don’t wanna talk about who’s doin’ it first.” It has this whimsical synth melody combined with faint sleigh bells in the background that just evoke this feeling of almost walking in a dreamlike place. The instrumental reminds me of something I might hear in a Wallows song, like something from their “Nothing Happens” Album. This type of sound isn’t anything new for Harry, but it feels so different compared to his other singles from “Harry Styles” and “Fine Line.”
“As It Was” was only the beginning of the “Harry’s House” era but it really set the tone for what this era had in store. “Harry’s House” is an album that captures the joy and excitement of love and hopefulness, but also looks into aspects of loneliness and learning to accept the future while looking back on the past.
“Music for a Sushi Restaurant” is the funky opening track that really sets the tone for the album we’re about to hear. It’s just such a snazzy song and just makes me want to get up and dance all over whatever room I’m in. The beat is groovy and features a cool horn section towards the chorus and a really fun vocal performance from Harry during the opening section. I’ve heard lots of people compare this part of the song to the theme song from “A.N.T. Farm” and even the transition music from “Glee,” which makes me like the song even more to be honest. I just love how fun this track is and compared to some of the other more chill songs on the album, this one is just such a mood booster and absolute favorite of mine. It’s become my quintessential summer bop.
This album features a ton of groovy, mood boosting songs just like its opening track. Some of my other favorites include “Late Night Talking” and “Daydreaming,” two incredibly fun tracks that paint a portrait of the whimsy and overwhelming attachments of new love. They both have this 70s-esque production to it with a hint of the 80s, filled with lots of horn sections and even a few synths, especially in “Late Night Talking.” I also enjoyed the more down tempo groovy tracks such as “Cinema,” “Daylight,” and “Satellite,”which are a bit more chill in comparison to some of the other more upbeat tracks, but are still incredibly fun.
As the album starts to go on a bit, the tone starts to get a bit more mellow and kind of somber. “Matilda” is a song that really spoke to me the first time I heard it. It is one of the slower tracks compared to the rest of the album, as it is a stripped down acoustic ballad with not many major production elements compared to other tracks. But what it lacks in production, it delivers in the lyrics. When I saw the title for the track, I immediately thought of the movie “Matilda,” which was an adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel of the same name. “Matilda” is about a girl who comes from a family who didn’t appreciate her and she ultimately finds her own family with her friends and teacher as well as discovering her own power. While I don’t think the track fully takes inspiration from this story, the name certainly fits the lyrics quite well. The lyrics specifically talk about someone who comes from a loveless home and finds family and acceptance with other people. While not everyone can specifically relate to the situation presented in the song, the song has become a big fan favorite because it speaks to that feeling of loneliness and finally familial love of your friends. At the end of the song, it builds up to this hopeful ending where “Matilda” finally finds her own family and people who show them love, with the lyrics “You can let it go / You can throw a party full of everyone you know / You can start a family who will always show you love / You don’t have to be sorry for doing it on your own.” It just really illustrates this idea of a found family and finding peace with people who truly love you and bring you comfort despite all the hardships. It’s an incredibly beautiful track and one I’ve come back to often.
Harry also does an amazing job with the more somber album tracks. He taps into some pretty deep feelings of depression and isolation but the production is almost dream-like and features a lot of synth elements and acoustic guitars. “Keep Driving” is a track that speaks to the idea of of the world going downhill but still being able to find comfort in the people you love, while other tracks like “Little Freak” and the album closer, “Love of My Life” tap into reminiscing on the relationships of the past and moving on a path to accepting fate and the future. These tracks are some of my favorites on the album because there is something almost nostalgic about its lyrics and even some of the synth productions. Tracks like “Love of My Life” and “Keep Driving” are songs I could hear at the end of a coming of age film or an end credits scene. There’s a calming ambience about these particular tracks that create a warm environment on each repeat listen.
“Harry’s House” is an album I’ll be coming back to a lot this year. It has this comfy atmosphere that reminds me of a warm breakfast on a calm summer day surrounded by all my friends. There’s something so comforting about it that stays with me with each new listen. It balances its whimsy and fun tracks with more lowkey and somber tracks that all complement each other really nicely. Each time I listen to it I find something new I love about it or a new detail in the production I’ve not noticed before. It’s equal parts fun and whimsical as it is grounded and reflective of the somber aspects of life.
Harry Styles has created the quintessential album for the summer.