It’s Harry Styles’ house and we’re all just living in it
Harry’s newest album offers groovy bops with heartfelt and inspiring themes.
Following his 2019 Grammy-award-winning sophomore album Fine Line, and his 2017 self-titled debut album, Harry Styles’ highly anticipated third studio album, Harry’s House, was released on May 20, 2022.
Where his previous albums teetered between folk, pop and retro-rock, Harry’s House waxes dreamy funk with slick, sticky synths. The project boasts bubbly jams that celebrate the physical and emotional pleasures of new romances, delicious eats, and late-night heart-to-hearts, while simultaneously touching on the soft and sentimental strums of troubled families, toxic relationships, and lost lovers.
From one bassline to the next, Harry’s House is an expertly curated mixture of vintage aesthetics. Styles’ vocal delivery feels like dusted powdered sugar through his pop-star style and English whimsy. The album unfolds in a loose and unhurried way, marrying varied tempos with contrasting genres but never relaxing its natural groove.
With instrumental cameos from John Mayer, Pino Palladino, Dev Hynes and Ben Harper, Styles worked alongside long-time collaborators and family friends Kid Harpoon (Jessie Ware, Shawn Mendes, Florence & The Machine) and Tyler Johnson (Sam Smith, Cam) to write and produce the album.
Opening the album is the upbeat “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” with its scene-stealing horns taking centre stage. Styles’ Prince-like scatting and plethora of food references add a goofy edge to the infectiously kitschy tune. The mellow bounce of “Late Night Talking” follows suit, carrying an early-80s romanticism with Styles’ tender promises to “follow you to any place/If it’s Hollywood or Bishopsgate.”
Sweet, sappy, and sentimental tunes like “Grapejuice,” “Daylight,” “Little Freak,” and “Love of My Life” hold influence from Sir Paul McCartney as well as the Beatles. “Grapejuice” begins with Styles’ voice hidden beneath a vocal processor, almost as if to reference speaking to a lover through a speaker. The chorus, however, brings his voice to the forefront. Following closely behind, “Daylight” is a bright and relatable mixture of pining and psychedelic weightlessness. “Little Freak,” despite its frisky title, croons the reminiscence of a past, but never forgotten love.
The finger-plucked cello of “Matilda” adds to the raw emotion of the ballad, where Styles’ gut-wrenching lyrics explore the pain of growing up in a neglectful family. The first chorus affirms that leaving home and growing up comes with letting go of past relationships.
The leading single “As It Was,” released in April 2022, is introduced by Styles’ goddaughter through an adorably angry voice memo to represent the slow loss of young relationships. With a hint of influence from A-ha!’s “Take on Me,” the tune is effortlessly joyful. It’s a breath of fresh air after the soft lull of “Grapejuice,” carrying a catchy chorus and the effect of chiming bells that make you want to bop your head.
The Mayer-groove and Justin Timberlake feel of “Cinema” are evident between the funk bounce of the strings and the salacious lyrics. On the other hand, “Daydreaming,” also horn-led with Mayer on strings, borrows its show-stopping sparkle from the Brothers Johnson. The song recreates the vocal bridge of their 1978 hit “Ain’t We Funkin’ Now.” It is near impossible not to get up and dance along or mimic Styles’ confident vocals leading in and out of the bridge.
“Keep Driving” is an experience of its own. It feels like looking through someone’s personal camera roll and catching glimpses of a different side of their life. Each verse passes by like scenery on a road trip. Similarly, “Satellite” comes together with an abundance of visual text; the intergalactic instrumentation carries its own gravitational pull. As Styles leads into the second half of the song, he builds momentum and almost bolts out of control like a spaceship losing its way.
Closing out the album, “Boyfriends” is a beautiful ballad. One of the more impressive tracks of the project, it features only Ben Harper on the acoustic guitar and Styles’ stacked vocals and harmonies. The song’s lyrics outline a toxic relationship. Crooning, “You love a fool who knows just how to get under your skin/You still open the door.” Styles tackles an unfortunate experience that plagues people all around the world. He questions why someone he loves is constantly mistreated by their partner, and why they continue to go back to them despite knowing it’s not what they deserve.
Harry’s House leaves us with a taste of Styles’ world with more openness, intimacy, and vulnerability than before. His singing is as conversational as his lyrics, promoting romance as a hopeful, fragile dialogue between himself and his fans. Harry’s House preaches that home is whatever, wherever, and whomever you make it with, and you’ll always be invited into his.