Thursday, May 26, 2022

Review: Harry's House • Harry Styles

Harry Styles: Arguably the most famous former boyband member to dominate pop culture, or at least the one who achieved the most fame without personally victimizing Britney Spears and Janet Jackson in his ascent to the top. Each of his albums has not only sustained, but ballooned public interest in his life, his style, his relationships, and his next steps. Under the magnitude of celebrity lifestyle, it would be understandable for someone like Harry Styles to insulate his personal life from the stage persona that has grown far beyond his own control – yet here we are, in possession of a third studio album titled Harry’s House.

If Styles’ first two records were guitar-led rockstar testaments to the fact that he could succeed beyond the construct of One Direction, Harry’s House welcomes listeners into a freshly painted room – in something mint, or lemon, or salmon – where it’s all gone away. It’s just Harry and his music, played for whomever may stop in for a chat. Quaint and light, the music here aims to please no one. Harry often runs through lyrics with the fluidity of a grocery list – and on the horn-adorned “Music for a Sushi Restaurant,” that’s quite literal: “Green eyes, fried rice. I could cook an egg on you.” (Certainly the first 38-lettered way to say “hot as hell,” eh?) “Keep Driving” is about the same: “Riot America, science and edibles, life hacks going viral in the bathroom. Cocaine, side boob, choke her with a sea view.” (Harry After Dark is in full force, folks.)

The album is packed with these moments, when he is more focused on saccharine melody lines and the regularity of ordinary life. Of course, reality creeps in eventually on No. 1 single “As It Was,” a bright, flashing signal to get up and get on with it, and “Love of My Life,” a churning reflection on love lost – but even at its heaviest, Harry’s House remains an easy listen. It’s smooth, even if Harry himself isn’t the most suave in constructing his strings of alphabet soup, and maybe somewhat self-indulgent – but it’s an album from someone who stopped particularly caring what you think months ago, knowing that what he creates will surely be good enough for himself. And that it is, and that it should be. After all, this is his house. We’re just visitors.

Harry's House is available now under Columbia Records.

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