Album: Harry’s House by Harry Styles
Release Date: May 20, 2022
Runtime: 42 Minutes
Label: Erskine and Columbia Records
While Harry Styles may be hoping that his third solo album becomes the soundtrack to everyone's summer, "Harry's House" is not up to standard, despite a few saving graces.
In December 2019, Styles' released his sophomore album "Fine Line." The highlights of “Fine Line” — songs like “Falling” and “Lights Up” — showcased raw emotion and depth that can only be attributed to the former One Direction member. Naturally, fans would expect the same for Styles’ next album.
At the core of “Harry’s House” is a groovy, 70s vibe that shines through with lighthearted music and simple lyrics. The backing music consists of warm, easy listening and exactly the type of music one would hear on a poolside stereo.
However, this album noticeably lacks a discussion of anything deeper than surface level sentiments. It sticks to the topic of romantic relationships without the dimension of previous projects.
In his song "Cinema," Styles' lyrics are clunky, weird and uncomfortable, making it difficult to reconcile the song writer we've grown to know through his first two albums, with the one who wrote "I bring the pop to the cinema / You pop when we get intimate."
The subject of all his love songs is an object of attraction with no greater substance. While this is standard in other love songs, the effect falls flat because the song has no attempt to be unique. Styles sings, “you hide the body all that yoga gave you” in “Little Freak.” In conjunction with the title, the lyric feels shameful and demeaning.
These songs cannot be taken seriously, considering his position and what seems to be a conscious effort to produce hollow content. Despite this, the album has plenty of redeeming qualities.
One song, “Matilda,” tells a tale of familial abuse and found family that sheds the subject of the song in a reverential and caring light. He assures Matilda, “you don’t have to be sorry for leavin’ and growin’ up,” which is validating to any victims of this type of abuse. Styles is at his best when he is personal and real.
The album’s lead single, "As It Was," discusses themes of change and perspective. There is duality and complexity in wishing for things to be as they were, but also not wanting to talk about it. These themes persist throughout the album in songs like "Love Of My Life" where Styles reflects on the fallout of a failed relationship and how he has since grown.
It is a stark contrast from prior albums, but it is exactly the type of bubbly pop that would soar to the top of the charts. While there are no standout vocal performances, this album is great for easy listening. “Music For a Sushi Restaurant” is a perfect song to dance to, whereas “Satellite” keeps building, pushing it towards a perfect release.
While “Harry’s House” is decidedly not the album of the summer, its hidden gems and delights are exciting but sparse. Some songs may make their way onto summer feel good playlists, but Styles has not exceeded any expectations for this album release, leaving his audience disappointed.