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Harry Styles Harry's House

Harry Styles exudes a playful confidence on his third solo release, a joyous exploration of the synth-pop sound.

Released: 20 May 2022
Harry's House

Come in, come in. Don't worry about your shoes. Welcome to Harry's House. Care for a glass of red?

In the foyer you are first met with a bubbling synth loop and the crashing stereo-panned drums of 'Music For a Sushi Restaurant', which set the album's aesthetic firmly in the 1980s. The drum fill has echoes of 'Hounds of Love' and 'The Way You Make Me Feel', and gives way to stabs of staccato brass and fretless bass, in a wonderfully off-kilter opener that hears Harry breaking into bursts of falsetto and scat.

Everything in this place hums with a neon pink sheen. Whether the glossy disco of 'Late Night Talking', or the tight rhythms of 'Daylight', the synth-heavy sound on display is a clear departure from the folk-rock stylings of Fine Line. Granted, there are a smattering of more conventional guitar and piano ballads on this record, but they take a back seat. 'Matilda', a heartfelt and sweet-natured letter to a troubled friend, is probably the most memorable of the pack.

Lead single 'As It Was' is a piece of pop perfection. Clocking in at under three minutes, this track reaches its conclusion via a middle eight that begs to go round another time, and an outro propelled by tubular bells. With one final run of the synth hook, the song is over before it has begun, and there is little choice but to listen again. No wonder it has been sat atop the UK singles chart for seven weeks and counting.

Lyrically, Styles remains preoccupied with romantic love. He addresses the listener in intimate tones, begging to "dip you in honey", or take you back to his for "a bottle of rouge, just me and you". It seems there is no danger of Styles shaking off the teenage heartthrob mantle anytime soon.

The latter half of the album loses some momentum and there is a distinct whiff of filler to some of the cuts. 'Cinema' drags on in a yacht rock daze. 'Daydreaming' has some of the sugary-sweet drive of Fine Line's 'Treat People With Kindness' but lacks that track's quirky edge, whilst 'Love Of My Life' is a lyrically and sonically safe finale.

Harry Styles has come a long way from the straight-up stadium rock of his first solo album, which in many ways felt like a plea for us to forget his boyband pop star image. False dichotomies of rock and pop no longer interest him, and the décor of Harry's House is self-confident in its moments of camp and kitsch. This is progressive pop music reminiscent of Kate Bush or Peter Gabriel, and Styles' next album will doubtless continue moving into new and interesting spaces. He has not followed the usual trajectory of child stars, burnt out and washed up by the pressures of fame. Instead, he has navigated his celebrity with quiet maturity, and grown slowly into a fashion and musical icon of broad appeal. Every room in this house bears witness to the style he has so confidently made his own.

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