On May 20th, Harry Styles released his third studio album, Harry’s House. To no one’s surprise, Styles’ star power broke records within the 24 hour mark. A considered departure from the heartbreak of his last album, Fine Line, Harry’s House gave fans a glimpse into the rom-com loving romantic Styles claims to be.
A big brass section welcomes fans into the experience with “Music For a Sushi Restaurant”. A song that sets his intentions with romantic relationships and the album alike. An almost cautious, “I’m not going to get lost/I’m not going to go broke,” followed by a hectic, “You know I love you, babe!” Listeners know they’re in for Harry declaring his love with his whole chest.
Due in part to the fact that the singer’s life is in a much different place this time around. Not only was there less pressure to establish himself as a valid solo artist (if his ability to sell out arenas in seconds doesn’t sway you, check out his Grammy), but he’s now in love. During the 2020 filming of his upcoming movie “Don’t Worry Darling,” Harry met and began a long term relationship with the film’s director, Olivia Wilde.
At the same time, the star was vocal in interviews and at shows, about attending therapy. He states that seeing a counselor helps him feel ‘more alive.’ From a musical standpoint we see him being more reflective as well. The lead single “As It Was” accounts Harry’s darkest experiences. Teasing the strained relationship with his loved ones because of a tendency to self isolate and even (allegedly) referencing his girlfriend’s divorce from comedian Jason Sudeikis.
However, he doesn’t shy away from the ‘it-gets-better’ message either. “Matilda” encourages listeners to create a chosen family. It’s massively different than the sad songs Styles has debuted before. However it’s the most moving and a definite highlight within the new album. If you check this one out, bring a tissue. When the singer croons, “You don’t have to be sorry for/Leaving and growing up,” you’re bound to get misty eyed.
Although you won’t stay sad for long. In the next track “Cinema,” Styles is back to sex and love. Claiming “You pop when we get intimate.”
The two closing tracks, “Boyfriends” and “Love of My Life” are also worth the listen. The cadence of “Love of My Life” felt related to Fine Line‘s “To Be So Lonely.” A dark and mood track with hypnotic sounds, where Styles admits that sometimes he’s not perfect. “I don’t know you half as well as all my friends/I won’t pretend that I’ve been doing everything I can/To get to know your creases and your ends.”
At the end of the day, the final two songs stood out in an album that flowed so cohesively, it was almost difficult to differentiate between the tracks if you weren’t listening with intention. Some listeners found this fact lackluster. Following his last two albums, in which every song stood out as a possible single, it’s an interesting turn musically.
And while the general feelings and intentions behind this set of songs has changed, Harry’s signature style is weaved within. From the big band sounds introducing the album, to his iconic fruit title tradition living on in “Grapefruit.”
Ultimately it feels like the singer has evolved from what we knew him as previously. He’s no longer a sixteen year old in the biggest boy band of his generation. Nor is he a young adult dating around and grasping at straws to figure it out anymore. He’s a grown man and while he’s still treating people with kindness, he’s a bit more somber about it.
All this said, Harry’s House paves the away for the singer’s career to continue skyrocketing. Beyond it’s commercial and critical success, it’s a testament to Styles’ ability to produce a new experience for his listeners with each era of his music. In a way One Direction did not allow, Harry House is an experiment of sound and tribute to having fun creating music with his chosen family.