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Harry’s House – Harry Styles

Come on now, you didn’t really think we were going to let this album release pass rrramble by, did you?

This week, we let 3 of our writers loose (including one who specifically told us that they are ‘not exactly a Styler’) to give their verdict on Harry’s latest musical offering, Harry’s House. Were they all happy to be invited? Read on to find out…

A pink green and orange splodged background, in the rrramble branded colours. In the centre, a circular photo of Harry Styles. He is smiling and looking off to the left, and is wearing a cardigan patterned with a cityscape, and a string of white pearls.
The internet’s fave soft boi

Lucy May

I can remember the exact moment Harry got me. Look at that – he doesn’t even need a surname anymore, he’s like Elvis now, making his way up there with the bigshots: Paul & John, Bowie, Kylie. Harry. 

A Friday evening, 2017. I come downstairs to catch the end of the Graham Norton show, and there he is. It’s the Sign of the Times debut performance. Backlit in pink, belting out those emotional notes, I realised this was no longer the One Direction kid. It was a real lightbulb moment. Prior to this, I was doing my best to ignore him, really trying not to fall for the guy every person on the planet seemed to be in love with. No. I am not. Like. Other – 

Yes, yes I am like all the other Harry fans, and it’s beautiful here. Newsflash: when lots of people enjoy something, there is probably a good reason for it, and I have been dancing merrily around to As It Was since it came out. I’ve been curious about what this album would bring: would it have equivalent bops? Other, equally catchy hooks sprinkled throughout? 

Alas, alack. There are absolutely some bops on here, but none of them are as catchy as As It Was.  If I’m being brutally honest, As It Was is the peak, and I can’t pick out another song that would suit a single. Nevertheless, it’s a nice album. The opening songs are upbeat and fun, similar to Treat People With Kindness. We have As It Was lifting things up the middle, but then the songs start to blur for me a little. Cinema, Daydreaming and Keep Driving blend together inoffensively; enjoyable of course, but nothing stand-out. Things pick up again towards the end – the final trio was chosen for a reason, that reason being they are a lovely sequence. 

When I hit play for the first time, I thought Music for a Sushi Restaurant  might be an instrumental opening. Sadly the concept is not so daring, but it’s a fun song all the same. The food theme from Fine Line has been continued into this album, which I’m a fan of: Watermelon Sugar and Cherry have become Grapejuice and a Sushi Restaurant. We have so many mentions of wine glasses, frying eggs, pancakes, hash-browns…the homely theme is strong with this one. 

Boyfriends is lovely, a song I will be returning to often. It reminds me of Wolf Alice’s Safe From Heartbreak (if I never fall in love). More albums need an acoustic, harmonising folk-style intermission, and this is a hill I will die on. 

TL,DR: Harry’s House is no ground-breaking work of musical genius, but it is pleasant, comfortable and will be a breezy summer soundtrack. It easily gathers so much of current pop culture together: a slightly quirky aesthetic; a nostalgic feel; those slightly-faded Billie Eilish vocals. It’s not challenging anything, but it’s been made with self-awareness. Harry’s House is fully conscious that it’s going to be soundtracking people’s homes and domestic lives. These tunes will be talked over at house parties, sung to in the shower, danced to in the kitchens – “music for a sushi restaurant, music for whatever you want!”. It’s an ode to the homes and houses that started to feel like prisons during lockdown. Harry has given us an optimistic product of some very trying times. Come on in, make yourself at home. 

The Harry's House album cover. There is a plain beige room, with a brown sofa, a white hard backed chair, a table with a lamp, and a vase of flowers. Harry stands looking contemplative, with his finger resting on his chin. He wears wide legged blue jeans and a white, flowy blouse. The image is flipped so it looks like the room is upside down, and Harry is standing on the ceiling (which is where the floor should be), the sofa and other items suspended above him.
If you know where to find these jeans, drop us an email…

Kit

As a recovering Directioner, I have mixed feelings about Harry Styles’ solo career thus far. Fine Line felt like such a pivotal moment of pop culture, where he truly grew into his own sound that was recognisable as the music of a former pop boy. His debut was hit-and-miss for me; a chaotic attempt at distancing himself from the manicured perfectionism of boy band-dom, that alienated some of his fanbase with attempts to carve out a rock-pop vibe. Harry’s House feels like a return to this initial experimentalism and an attempt to expand his definition of pop, but I feel, for the most part, that this time it’s proven to be a success. He builds upon some of the vocal arrangements of Fine Line with songs like Daydreaming, which feels sonically reminiscent of TPWK, while managing to carve out a distinct Harry’s House sound.

The lead single As It Was exemplifies this sound, and it caught me off guard when it was released. For me, the most memorable moments of Fine Line were the grand affecting vocals on Falling and Fine Line, or the hooky, danceable hits Watermelon Sugar and Golden. As It Was, on the other hand, feels much more low-key vocally and it took a couple of listens for me to unpick the complexities in the vocal arrangements. However, the single achieved a lot in its two minutes and forty-seven seconds; it established the nostalgic synth-pop feel that is symbolic of this era, it called back to the melancholic breakup hits Cherry and Falling, while still showing a level of growth that is telling of the album’s undertones of new love, and it cemented itself as a radio-friendly track that makes you want to listen over again. 

This lead single achieves further context sonically in the midst of the album and sits just as comfortably alongside the bass-twanging, funk filled opening track Music For a Sushi Restaurant as it does alongside moving ballad Matilda. Any weaker, slightly repetitive moments like Cinema are only brief and easy to overlook. There are some sparkly memorable lyrics like “You’re sweet ice cream, but you could use a flake or two” (a personal favourite as a lover of food metaphor) and “we held darkness and withheld clouds/I would ask, ‘Should we just keep driving’” and the narrative arc of the album feels far stronger than any of his previous work. 

This narrative feels as though it reaches an emotional peak on the songs Little Freak and Matilda, which, as a member of the LGBT community and lover of chosen family narratives, felt particularly personal. Harry himself said that Roald Dahl’s Matilda – a calling card among the LGBT community, and a favourite book/film of mine – was part of the inspiration behind the song, which is not so much a love song but a musical expression of love, at a distance. This emotional peak doesn’t dip over the remainder of the album (how could it with a closing track titled Love of My Life?) but goes from strength to strength.

Considering my mixed feelings about his debut album, and my unfaltering love for Fine Line, Harry’s House, for me, carried more of a sophomore-album-like pressure, but one I feel it certainly lives up to. While there are moments where I miss the scream-crying vocals of songs like Falling, I understand that this album comes from a different place both emotionally and sonically. It ultimately feels like the work of a mature and accomplished pop star with his own distinct and varied sound, as well as an impactful record of new love.

Harry Styles on stage at his Harry's House one-night-only concert. He wears black leather trousers and a pink t shirt with a repetitive red heart pattern. He is dancing, putting his weight on one hip and with his arm raised. Behind him, we can see his drummer, bassist and keyboardist, as well as blue and purple stage lights.
Ain’t no party like a Harry Styles party

Tom

I admit, I resisted this kind of heartthrob pop until I had to (that was yesterday, by the way). From my experience, Harry Styles’ previous albums switch gears a ton, so they lack focus. To succeed, Harry’s House needed to pick one idea and break it down, and thankfully, it does. Genuinely, the album is basically a Twitter thread about a distant love; a masterful series of darts thrown, all from different emotional viewpoints. I love this focus, and the dude opening up more makes it even more exciting. Count me in, headphones on.

Let’s talk story; because (as with many great stories) it’s not in order, half of the narrative is foggy as, and whoever does the track ordering could do with some support. For me, Grapefruit is where things get going. Styles’ laid-back coasting feels like he’s leaning in to a new artistic direction. I don’t know where listening to this took you; but I ended up forgetting the time and my duty to write this, and was transported – the best person in my life and a bottle of wine in tow. The following track, As It Was, also jives in being in Styles’ wheelhouse. Daylight hits hard, with whoever Harry’s singing about miles away – lyrics like “you got me calling at all times” feel real, and “get the picture, cut out my middle” is cryptically fantastic.

Sometimes this X-Factor alum’s lyrics are too clear (thanks, teen love lingo), but in this anthology there are adventures into code, starting with the regret-filled Little Freak. This track turns everything on its head and, in typical Styles fashion, his snap into Matilda swivels everything again. The outcome’s crushing. The feeling of “Is this about anyone particularly? Oh, is it her?” is a neat one-two punch for the album to pull off. I love how “it’s none of my business, it’s just been on my mind” feels natural, and throughout the track, the imagery really emphasises the homely feel. With this in mind, it’s clear Matilda is the top track for me.

Keep Driving similarly portrays pretty ordinary things, while Satellite reminds us of how big a distance can be. The album isn’t all themed, as Music For A Sushi Restaurant and Cinema offer distinct intriguing worlds, but never coalesce.

The album closes on a shaky closing admittance that [insert name here] was the one. I was nodding (note: play Love of My Life whilst parting ways at your local train station).

Styles’ coyness and love for surprise ever-present, I’m pleasantly surprised that Harry’s House actually adds up to something bigger. While I am still yet to be smacked by Styles’ groove, I’d say he’s now on the right road to, one day, winning me over.

Harry Styles sits on a large concrete ball, with his legs spread out and his hands in between them. He is wearing a 70s inspired jumpsuit, with blue, brown and red diagonal stripes. He is smiling past the camera. Behind him is a grey-blue sky.
Big ball or tiny Harry?

Georgia

As an artist, Harry Styles has never stayed in one place for very long. From the classic rock feel of his debut album to the folk pop of Fine Line, Styles has experimented with a variety of different genres. However, his foray into 80’s inspired funk in Harry’s House has been his biggest sonic shift yet, and he executes it flawlessly. 

Harry’s House opens with the electrifying Music For a Sushi Restaurant, an upbeat track which perfectly situates the album in its groovy, funk-rock sound. This theme is followed on by Late Night Talking, Cinema and Daydreaming, which are some personal favourites from the album. 

While Styles feels more self assured on this album than Fine Line, Harry’s House takes a more introspective turn with songs like Little Freak and Matilda. While Matilda could benefit from being a little shorter, Little Freak is one of the stronger tracks, about reminiscing over a past relationship. ‘I was just thinking about who you are/ Your delicate point of view.’ While it feels more removed from heartbreak than some of the songs on Fine Line, there is a melancholy there that allows a breathing room in between some of the more high-energy tracks. Daylight is another high point, a lighthearted track that feels like lying on a picnic blanket in the summer. In this track, Styles struggles with a long distance relationship, singing that ‘If I was a bluebird, I would fly to you.’ Like many of the songs on the album, it feels very intimate, like a personal look into the life of Harry Styles. 

While I loved As It Was when it first came out (and still do, of course) I wish there was more of the album’s funk sound in the track. Although it’s still a strong song, it feels much more like a generic pop song in the wider context of the album, and could be much stronger if it was just dialled up a little. Thematically, however, it fits perfectly on Harry’s House: looking back on the past, knowing that things have changed beyond the point of no return. 


Harry Styles has come a long way. From a sixteen year-old auditioning for X-Factor, to a member of the biggest boyband in the world, to releasing his first solo album, his career has taken many turns in the past twelve years. Perhaps because of this, each of his solo albums have been incredibly distinct from one another. While all of his solo projects have been incredibly focused, cohesive bodies of work, there is a kind of lightness to Harry’s House that has been missing from his previous works; it’s a sense of confidence, different to Harry Styles and Fine Line that suggests he has finally found his footing as an artist.

You can listen to Harry’s House on all major streaming platforms.

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