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28th May 2022

Fruit, Sex, Sadness: Harry Styles returns with Harry’s House

A review of the funky new Harry Styles record, Harry’s House, by Owen Scott.
Fruit, Sex, Sadness: Harry Styles returns with Harry’s House
Photo: Harry’s House Official Album Art

When looking at the album cover and hearing the album’s name, you’d be forgiven for thinking Harry’s House is a wholly quiet, introspective album, but, in truth, Harry Styles imbues the album with a confidence of someone who has grown into themselves. That’s not to say there’s no introspective moments here, there’s many of those and lots of confessional lyrics, but there’s a sense of confidence in the album’s 70s funk influence. It’s a strong third album, a worthy follow up to Fine Line and his first LP. If it wasn’t clear before, Harry Styles is here to stay.

The first song ‘Music for a Sushi Restaurant’ is an explosive start, sweeping in with a groovy bassline, trumpets and moaned shouts of “You know I love you babe.” It’s straight from a 70s disco and an immediate standout. Like ‘Golden’ on his previous LP, it’s a triumphant way to start the album. The album slides along to ‘Late Night Talking’, which carries on the previous track’s joyful 70s funk groove. Lyrically Harry details his love for someone and their conversations through the night, committing to following them to star studded places like ‘Hollywood’ and more familiar ones like ‘Bishopsgate’.

With ‘Grapefruit’, and I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, Harry adds more to his ever-growing rolodex of fruit references (see ‘Kiwi’, ‘Watermelon Sugar’ and ‘Cherry’). It features Styles talking about buying roses for a lover, though he chooses to buy a bottle of wine for himself instead. Leading into ‘As It Was’, which features references to pills, ‘Grapefruit’ hints at darker ideas than the album’s initial bright funk sounds suggest, with its focus on drinking. Speaking of ‘As It Was’, the song contrasts an 80s synth that feels reminiscent of songs like ‘Take On Me’, with some of Styles’ most confessional lyrics to date. Breaking records the world over, it’s one of the album’s most radio ready songs and I’m not sure what’s in that bridge but it has me, and apparently the internet, playing it on repeat.

After ‘Daylight’, which features guitars that bring to mind Styles’ first LP, the album takes a more mellow tone with two album stand outs ‘Little Freak’ and ‘Matilda’. With ‘Little Freak’ Styles reflects on a past relationship, with the more toned-down production creating a sense of longing. Similarly, ‘Matilda’ deals with the concept of chosen families, and the idea of home as not a literal place. Lyrically, ‘Matilda’ is one of the best tracks on the album, both confessional for Styles and relatable for the listener.

With ‘Cinema’ and ‘Daydreaming’, the album returns to lighter themes and sounds. ‘Cinema’ is a slinky smooth disco song featuring one of the more unexpected lyrics on the album, though after ‘Watermelon Sugar’ (from 2019’s Fine Line) we shouldn’t really be surprised anymore, with “I bring the pop to the cinema” and then “You pop when we get intimate.” On ‘Daydreaming’, Harry samples The Brother’s Johnson’s 1978 hit ‘Ain’t We Funkin’ Now’ for one of the LP’s sunniest tracks.

‘Keep Driving’ is another more mellow moment on the album, detailing the more mundane parts of life, like food, “Coffee, pancakes for two, hash browns”, and juxtaposing them with more serious parts of modern life e.g., “riot America” and social media “Life hacks going viral in the bathroom.” The questions it raises, about focusing on one’s own life and relationships or the bigger problems the world faces, are interesting ones, making it one of the album’s most thought-provoking tracks.

Harry’s House comes to an emotional end with ‘Satellite’, ‘Boyfriends’ and ‘Love of My Life.’ With ‘Satellite’, we’re taken out of Harry’s House and into space, with 80s synths giving the song a sci-fi flare. The smooth vocals on the track and the catchy hook make it an album highlight. ‘Boyfriends’ is a folky song, featuring perhaps Styles’ softest vocals on the LP and an acoustic guitar. ‘Love of My Life’ features heavy synths and a piano ending, giving the LP’s end a sense of grandiosity, despite it being one of the more introspective songs lyrically on the album, with Styles realising one of his previous lovers was the true love of his life.

With moments to dance to and introspective tear-jerking moments, Harry presents the full range of emotions that we feel when we’re home. Love, joy, sadness, and yearning are abundant, wrapped up in a neat 1970s meets the 1980s funk package (and maybe a sequin jumpsuit). Inviting us into his house, Harry Styles reveals quiet kitchen moments, bedroom confessions and moments with the energy of a house party. It’s Styles at his most artistic.

For more on Harry Styles, check out his website here, and you can listen to Harry’s House here:

Owen Scott

Owen Scott

Head Arts Editor at the Mancunion and culture journalist

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