Boyband icon turned solo Coachella headliner, Harry Styles, has been praised since 2010 for his effortless easing into the ‘rockstar’ lifestyle of fame, with comparisons to the likes of Mick Jagger consistently drawn. 2022 saw Styles return with his third solo album, titled ‘Harry’s House’, and, akin to the name, it can definitely be defined as a more personable and mature look into the inner workings of the singer’s thoughts, particularly when compared to his previous projects. Amrit Virdi reviews.
There was once a time where seductive lyrical references, explicit references to drug use, and sexual innuendos from Harry Styles, a popstar in a boyband with a mainly young female fanbase, would be frowned upon. But take Styles as a solo star, and a much more authentic, and dare I say realistic, outlook on life as a 28-year-old, is evident in his music. In a recent with Zane Lowe, the star revealed how he immensely enjoyed the process of making this album, partly inspired by the pandemic, given the three year gap between this album and the release of its emotive predecessor, ‘Fine Line’.
To say the album, and its accompanying live show ‘Love On Tour’ is an emotional rollercoaster of some sorts is an understatement. With the upbeat production on the majority of tracks set up by danceable, trumpeted, crescendo- based opener, Music For A Sushi Restaurant, the listener can expect to see Harry Styles’ fun-loving energy shine on the album.
The instrumentation is a definitive feature of the album, notably in anthemic tracks such as Late Night Talking or Daylight. Something which translated well to the album’s live performance is the use of drums, which again takes Styles away from his teen-pop synth-production label, that he became accustomed to in One Direction.
While it did make me cry, it clearly marks Styles’ journey
On this note, the mellower moments such as Matilda, Boyfriends, and Little Freak, driven by acoustic guitars, are appreciated, and increase this album’s star rating, due to its versatility. Little Freak is my personal favourite track on the album as, while it did make me cry, it clearly marks Styles’ journey as his music matures with him, leading to lyrically beautiful metaphorical tracks, which resonate with listeners worldwide. The love for Matilda on TikTok emphasises this, as Styles tells the story of a girl shunned by her family, who uses her personal strength to forge her own life, finding love and happiness – an ode to those out there who may be struggling themselves, and find Styles’ music as a place of solace.
These emotional ballads don’t typically feature the belting bridges that we often see in more emotional pop songs. Sonically, the fact that Styles isn’t exerting his vocal abilities to force himself to belt ballads with epic high-pitched endings and bridges defining the songs’ structures, such as in 2019’s Falling, adds to his musical maturity. Of course, there are moments such as in album closer, Love Of My Life, where isolated vocals allow Styles to show his ability to sing without immense instrumental support, but a welcome change in the record compared to his previous two albums is his ease to let the production speak for itself, without an over-reliance on powerful vocals.
Impossible to get out of your head
An Instagram poll I ran revealed Cinema to be the favourite track amongst most listeners, which is almost lo-fi, with its groovy bass and hi-hat driven backing, and repetitive bridge, making it impossible to get out of your head. This just proves that good music is often about a feeling, rather than about needless overproduction to ‘impress’ listeners.
Something Styles seems to have a knack of is picking singles best representative of the album. The success of his tracks which are just ingrained in your brain, whether you are a Harry fan or not, including Watermelon Sugar, Sign of the Times and Falling, is followed up with the TikTokable simple yet summery track, As It Was, which has already amassed over 730 million streams – that’s right, I know it sounds crazy.
The album succeeds in its task to bring joy to listeners
The album’s May release really set the tone for the summer charts, as many of its tracks took over the UK Top 10 when they was released. Daylight, Grapejuice, and Daydreaming aid to encapsulate the summer visuals associated with the light-hearted and airy production of the album.
Whilst I would have liked to have seen Styles perhaps stray away from his pop roots even more, and delve into exploring different genres, this album succeeds in its task to bring joy to listeners. I for one cannot help but dance around my room to Satellite every chance I get, reminding me of my One Direction days, where my teenage self loved their music because of how happy it made me, with its seeming lack of complexity, in the best way.
Even as a former diehard One Direction fan, I am not biased when I say that this album is perfect for mass appeal. Having been played many a time in my Spotify playlists since its release a few weeks ago, the album as a whole makes for a well-rounded listening experience. With the piano on the final track even ending on a perfect cadence, the record tells a tale of Styles’ musical maturity from start to finish – I’d highly recommend taking a trip into ‘Harry’s House’.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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