HARRY'S HOUSE BY HARRY STYLES // ALBUM REVIEW

After Harry Styles' record breaking release of his sophomore album Fine Line in late 2019, he is finally back and better than ever with his new album Harry's House! It was written, produced, and performed primarily with his frequent collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson - along with Sammy Witte and Mitch Rowland on a few - at the start of the pandemic in 2020 up until he embarked on the US leg of Love On Tour last Fall. This album opens up a new side of Harry that we haven't heard from him before, while still incorporating many of the same musical elements we all know and love from past work.

"I wanted to make an acoustic EP, all in my house, and make it really intimate. It’s named after the Japanese pop pioneer Haruomi Hosono, who had an album in the ‘70s called Hosono's House. I immediately started thinking about what Harry’s House might look like. It took time for me to realise that the house wasn’t a geographical location, it was an internal thing," Harry said in his interview with Zane Lowe and Apple Music. It's also worth noting that Joni Mitchell, who Harry has credited as a big influence in his own music many times, also has a song titled "Harry's House/Centerpiece" from 1976. Although he hasn't yet mentioned publicly that song inspiring the title of the album, I do see some subtle similarities between the wider themes of both Harry and Joni's release. 

In the Apple Music interview he continued, "I applied that concept to the songs we were making here, everything took on new meaning. Imagine it’s a day in my house or a day in my mind. What do I go through? I’m playing fun music. I’m playing sad music. I’m playing this, I’m playing that. I have doubts. I’m feeling stuff. And it’s all mine. This is my favorite album at the moment. I love it so much. And because of the circumstances, it was made very intimately; everything was played by a small number of people and made in a room. To me, it’s everything. It’s everything I’ve wanted to make."

It's often difficult to follow-up an album that was as successful as Fine Line is, and many in similar situations have often fallen flat. However, Harry delivered yet another incredible release that easily is my favorite album of the year. It is very cohesive through and through, all 13 of these songs feel like taking a glimpse inside Harry's mind through the lens of the musicians that have inspired him throughout his life. Some of the influences and sonic references are more noticeable than others, but overall it pulls from 70's and 80's pop music with modern rock elements. But it really is a mix of everything and each song is different from the last. 

"Music For A Sushi Restaurant" is such a fun intro to the album, when I first listened to it I couldn't even believe what I was hearing! 

Like most of the Harry's House, it has a heavy 70's disco influence, but with added jazz elements and such an amazing bass line. He sings "green eyes, fried rice, I could cook an egg on you" in the opening lines and in the pre-chorus sings, "its 'cause I love you babe, in every kind of way". I can definitely see this becoming the "Watermelon Sugar" of Harry's House in terms of commercial success because it is just so catchy. The production is top tier and set the tone for all that was to come for the rest if the album! As much as I love the title Harry's House for the name of the album, I also think "Music For A Sushi Restaurant" would have worked as a great title for the project as well! 

I have also been loving the new Apple commercial with this song in it - even if there isn't an official music video, that commercial perfectly captured the vibe of "Music For A Sushi Restaurant" so well! 

The second track keeps up that momentum with "Late Night Talking", which he debut in April when he was headlining Coachella. I must have watched that clip of him performing it a million times, so I was already loving this song long before it was released officially! In that regard, it's no surprise it's one of my favorites from the tracklist! Just like the first song, it has a great up-beat energy and a heavy 70's flare that feels so nostalgic. There are many sweet lyrical antectodes like, "If you're feeling down, I just wanna make you happier baby" and "Now you're in my life, I can't get you off my mind". I also love the line, "I've never been a fan of change, but I'd follow you to any place, if it's Hollywood or Bishopsgate, I'm coming too". 

My favorite song on this album changes constantly, but I really believe "Grapejuice" may be one of the best songs he has ever made. Keeping up the tradition of fruit themed songs, "Grapejuice" is Harry reminiscing on a past love and comparing heartbreak to a hangover, or the "grapejuice blues" as he calls it. It is evident he was inspired by Paul McCartney for this particular song, but his influence is prominent throughout all three of his solo albums. 

Parts of it remind me of Harry's song "Cherry" and it feels like those songs could be connected in some way, whether it is because they may have been written in a close time-frame, about the same person, etc. In the chorus he sings, "There's just no getting through without you", which was a recurring sentiment throughout Fine Line

Lyrically, it is so beautiful and has so many of my favorite lyrics of Harry's House. In the opening he sings; "Yesterday it finally came, a sunny afternoon, I was on my way to buy some flowers for you, thought that we could hide away in a corner of the heath, there's never been someone who's so perfect for me, but I got over it and I said 'Give me somethin' old and red'". It is such a sweet and simple song, which is what he does best throughout Harry's House.

Speaking of sweet and simple songs, "Daylight" also encapsulates everything I love about "Grapejuice", in the way it paints such an intimate portrait with poetic lyrics. Once again, he is reminiscing on a past relationship, that Harry said was written in a "stream of consciousness". In his interview with Zane Lowe and Apple Music, he opened up about the process of making this song; "We were like, ‘We have to find a way to stay awake and finish this, because if we all go to bed, then this won’t turn out the way it would if we finished tonight.’ So we powered through, finished it and went down to the beach as the sun was coming up and it was like, ‘Okay. Yeah.’ It felt correct that we’d finished it in that place. Life, and songs in particular, are so much about moments. In surfing, for example, sometimes you don’t get the wave and sometimes the wave comes and you haven’t practiced. But every now and again, the wave comes and you’re ready, you’ve practiced enough that you can ride it. Sometimes when the songs write themselves like that, it feels like, ‘Okay, there’s a reason why sometimes I sit out there, falling off the board a bunch. It’s for this moment."

The line "If I was a bluebird, I would fly to you, you'd be the spoon, dip you in honey so I could be sticking to you", is one of my favorite lyrics from the album. It is mostly a light and airy song, but has a big ending instrumentally. 

"You've got the antidote", is a lyric he sings on "Daylight", but has also been repeated throughout all three of his albums now - on "Ever Since New York" with "Choose your words, 'cause there's no antidote for this curse" and in "Golden" when he sings "Loving you's the antidote" - that is such a small detail that ties all of these albums together.

"As It Was" was the album's first single, which is absolutely amazing, no words can express how much I love this song. It is definitely my favorite song of the year so far, and will likely end up being my most played of 2022 as well. Coming out of the pandemic, this feels so timely because truly nothing is the same as it was. At the surface, it sounds like a happy 80s inspired dance track, but lyrically he is at one of his most vulnerable points on the entire album, opening up about family, addiction, dealing with change, the pandemic, and moving on from past hardship. 

In his interview with Apple Music, he said, "'As It Was' is about metamorphosis and perspective change, and the whole thing of, like, when you have that, it’s not something you have time with, and people go, like, “Alright, we’ll give you a couple more days with this moment and you get to say goodbye to your former self,” or whatever it is, and by the time you realize, it’s already gone. I think a big part of kinda evolution of what music you make as is ... it doesn’t matter if people want you to be that thing that they always loved about you or they want you to be that person, because you’re not that person anymore. Everyone is changing, and I think there’s no reason to not approach music that way, and kind of let it change and turn out differently than you started. You don’t always get to realize something happens, and you kind of look at it and be, like, “Wow,” and then you get to decide whether that is devastating or brilliant, and accept the fact that it’s probably both."

The meaning can be interpreted in many different ways and I think this is a song everyone will have their own association with, which makes it so special. The music video is such a masterpiece as well and full of symbolism that enhances the song itself even more. "It just felt like the thing I wanted to say, the thing I wanted to be doing and the kind of music I wanted to make coming back," he said. 

Since 2020, we have seen many different takes on what it meant to make music in times of a worldwide pandemic, which was largely in isolation or smaller settings than usual, Harry's House is no different in that regard. "As it Was" feels like a culmination of all of those experiences and pent-up energy of all we have been through in the past two and a half years. No one is the same as we were last year, two years ago, a decade ago, or even yesterday. We are ever-changing as people and this song captured that feeling of being on the brink of a metamorphosis perfectly. 

He repeatedly sings, "in this world, it's just us, you know it's not the same as it was", which at its core sums up the meaning of Harry's House so perfectly. 

The bridge is amazing and such a highlight of the entire album, especially for the way it represents Harry's current stage of life, "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". 

I also love the live arrangement of this song, especially at Coachella with the added electric guitars. If there is anything I would change about this song after hearing the live version is that I wish those guitars were more prevalent on the studio version too. I am seeing him live this September in New York City and this is one of the songs that I cannot contain my excitement about being able to hear live! "As It Was" was the perfect introduction to all that was to come for the rest of Harry's House and is an instant classic in his discography.  

The next two songs follow the theme of taking a look back at your childhood in the perspective of being an adult and all of the emotions associated with it. While the stories are vastly different, "Little Freak" and "Matilda" do still feel connected in that way to me being at the middle point of the album.

"Little Freak" is such a beautiful and melodic song about reminiscing on a past friend or childhood crush that you haven't seen in a long time. "I was thinking about who you are, your delicate point of view, I was thinking about you," is one of the most gorgeous verses on the album. I love the term "delicate point of view" so much. Some of his best vocal performances are on this chorus as he sings those lines. 

"Matilda" is such a special and important song, there's nothing else I can even compare it to because it is unlike anything I ever heard before. The song tells the story of Harry's friend and their experience with their family, disguised behind the fictional character of Matilda grown up from the Roald Dahl book. Harry sings, "its none of my business, but it's just been on my mind". The message of the song conveys that home can be whatever and wherever you want it to be.

"I had an experience with someone where, in getting to know them better, they revealed some stuff to me that was very much like, ‘Oh, that’s not normal, like I think you should maybe get some help or something,'" Harry said in his Apple Music interview. 

"I played it to a couple of friends and all of them cried. So I was like, ‘Okay, I think this is something to pay attention to.’ It’s a weird one, because with something like this, it’s like, ‘I want to give you something, I want to support you in some way, but it’s not necessarily my place to make it about me because it’s not my experience.’ Sometimes it’s just about listening. I hope that’s what I did here. If nothing else, it just says, 'I was listening to you.'"

In the song he sings, "You can let it go, you can throw a party full of everyone you know and not invite your family, because they never showed you love, you don't have to be sorry for leaving and growing up".

Before he performed this song for the first time he told the audience, "If you believe this song is for you, then it is". 

There are so many stunning and jaw-dropping lyrics on "Matilda", his songwriting talent shines through brighter than any other song I've heard from him before. Every single lyric of this song I love so much, from the bridge "I don't believe time will change your mind, in other words I know they won't hurt you anymore, as long as you can let them go", to "Matilda, you talk of the pain like its all alright, but I know a piece of you is dead inside" and "you can see the world, following the seasons, anywhere you go, you dont need a reason". 

My favorite lyric from the entire album is, "You showed me a power that can bring sun to the darkest days". It's such a powerfully moving and healing song, such a masterpiece in every way. Decades from now when we're looking at all of the music Harry has made in his life, "Matilda" will be a song that will truly go down as one of his greatest. 

After all of that, the transition into "Cinema" does seem kind of jarring at first, but after I listened to it on vinyl for the first time it all made sense with the way "Matilda" ends side A and "Cinema" starts side B. Thinking of the tracklist in terms of that format brings much more clarity to the flow. 

"Cinema" is a cute song with a great groove (thanks to Kid Harpoon and John Mayer), but lyrically I think he could have pushed it a little bit more while still keeping that level of nonchalance he was clearly going for. Out of all of these songs, I think it's very obvious who this one is about without even having to speculate about it though!

He sings, "I just think you're cool, I dig your cinema" and continues, "do you think I'm cool too, or am I too into you?".

My favorite part of the song is definitely the outro, it's so fun with the repetition of "you got the cinema, I bring the pop to the cinema" and so on.  

"Daydreaming" is going to be the star of his live shows from now on, I can already tell! The lyrics are so dreamy and colorfully written, with incredible production and vocal harmonies - I've been so obsessed with this song ever since I first heard it! John Mayer once again adds so much on the electric guitar parts, just as he did previously with "Cinema". The song also contains a sample of "Ain't We Funkin Now" performed by The Brothers Johnson. It's truly one of the best songs Harry has ever made!

"Keep Driving" is one of the most interesting and unexpected songs on the album, from what I've seen in the discourse online it's very divisive. For most of the verses, he is listing every detail of the setting like, "black and white film camera, yellow sunglasses, ash tray, swimming pool, hot wax, jump off the roof" - along with seemingly his breakfast order of "maple syrup, coffee, pancakes for two, hasbrown, egg yolk, I will always love you" (which is a lyric I actually love!). I personally love this song, especially the build up of the bridge is great, but I can see the way some may not like it as much, because it is so different and at first can sound like he's just listing random words. I never heard a song before that was written in this way!

It is basically painting a picture of everything happening at the moment, both good and bad, but choosing to ignore all of the warning signs as he sings, "a small concern with how the engine sounds, we held darkness in withheld clouds, I would ask, 'should we just keep driving?'".  

"Satellite" is a song that I can definitely see becoming a classic from this album. It starts off slow, but picks up in the chorus with amazing instrumentals. I know that when he performs this album, "Satellite" is going to be such a highlight of the concert! The explosive breakdown at the end of the song feels like a big conclusion to the album, even though it isn't even the last song, but probably could have been - although I do love the actual closing track "Love of My Life" too. 

Track 12 "Boyfriends" ends up feeling like filler in between "Satellite" and "Love of My Life" because it's as if nothing more needs to be said after that point. He debut "Boyfriends" at Coachella earlier this year with "Late Night Talking" and it is a slow ballad about his observations of the way boyfriends stereotypically act manipulative or foolish, from an outsider's perspective. It's a nice song and the harmonies of the recent performances he's done with his band live are beautiful, but I generally don't find myself returning to this song that often. 

It was written originally for Fine Line, around the time he wrote "Lights Up", "Adore You" and other big hits from that album. He said it has undergone many different changes throughout the past two years to get to the point it's at now. The problem with "Boyfriends" is that it feels like a track that wasn't good enough to be on Fine Line, whereas other songs on Harry's House may remind me of that album, but more in a way that enhances the continued story. I just think he gets his point across more poignantly on songs like "To Be So Lonely" and "Cherry" instead of the vagueness of "Boyfriends". It's not a bad song by any means, but comparatively to the rest of the tracklist I don't think it really holds its own against some of the other songs. 

The closing track is "Love of My Life", which was teased earlier this year in the album's trailer and announcement. He sings "Baby, you were the love of my life, and maybe you don't know what's lost 'til you find it". It wraps up the album so beautifully and all of the emotions he was battling throughout. In a way it does remind me of "Fine Line" the song, with how he is trying to overcome the feeling of being in a limbo, whether it is in life or in a relationship ending. But just like that song, "Love of My Life" feels like it ends on a postive and accepting note, much in the same vein of how he repeats "we'll be alright" over and over. It feels representative of every timeline this album was about, alluding to his childhood, who he was two years ago at the start of this album's creation, and the person he is now. 

"'Love of My Life" was the most terrifying song because it’s so bare. It’s so sparse. It’s also very much in the spirit of what Harry’s House is about," Harry said in an interview with Zane Lowe and Apple Music.

"It's not what I wanted to leave you behind, don't know where you land when you fly, but baby you were the love of my life", he sings. It's a beautiful closing song to what is another incredible release from Harry Styles. 

Harry's House was the perfect next step for Harry and is a great evolution to the foundation he built with his first two records. I tried not to have any expectations going into this album, but it was everything I could've dreamed it would be and more! Throughout the past five years of his solo career, I have loved seeing him become one of the most captivating and important artists in pop music today, I can't wait to see what he will do next!

If you're interested in reading more about Harry, I have written many other in-depth reviews of his past albums and several concerts linked here and below. 

Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this album in the comment section below! Treat People With Kindness! ✨️ 

-Melissa ♡

Photo Credit: Harry Styles, Columbia Records, Erskine Records, Hanna Moon and Antony Pham

Related Posts:

Harry Styles // 5 Year Anniversary Debut Album Review

Happy Harryween! // Harry Styles Live in New York City 2021

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