The highly anticipated third album from Harry Styles is only days away and sees this modern pop icon fearlessly find himself as a solo artist. Aptly titled ‘Harry’s House’, the album is an all-encompassing stream of consciousness alongside a unique retro-pop sound.
‘Harry’s House’ is the natural progression from the stepping stone debut and sophomore records. While Styles’ self-titled first album was the artist’s chance to find his voice outside of One Direction, ‘Fine Line’ saw him dabble in a more extravagant palette but still colouring within the borders of pop convention.
Launching us into this collection of offbeat tracks is ‘Music For a Sushi Restaurant’, a larger than life groove-infused opening number that showcases Styles’ scatting ability. This is followed by the suave yet energizing ‘Late Night Talking’, another glam synth-pop offering ready to become a dancefloor anthem.
Listeners who came to the album expecting the same introspective emotion found on lead single ‘As It Was’ could be forgiven at this point for wondering where the wistful and personal storytelling elements are going to come in, however, they needn’t worry as Styles’ vulnerability returns on the romantic declaration, ‘Grapejuice’.
As the album progresses, this dreamy and stripped-back aesthetic prevails. With Styles relying less on bold 80s nostalgia in ‘Daylight’, ‘Little Freak’ and ‘Matilda’, listeners can pay more attention to the conversational and colloquial lyrics. Covering kitchen activities that span “doing cocaine” and making “your tea and your toast”, as well as intimate references, “you never saw my birthmark”, Styles paints detailed pictures of what it’s like to be him outside of the headlines and gives his fanbase plenty of cryptic clues to decipher.
‘Cinema’ jolts the record back into groovy 80’s aesthetics with its funk-infused bassline, layered soaring vocals and flirtatious lyrics. This swagger continues with the free-formed ‘Daydreaming,’ mirroring the one-two punch of high energy tracks that introduce the album.
One thing is for sure, Styles is not afraid of quickly dropping us back into melancholy soundscapes and evocative lyricism. Snapshots of moments come together on “Keep Driving” to depict the endurance of a chaotic life out of sync.
Pockets of slow and reverbed vocals meet electrifying guitars on the ethereal sad disco track ‘Satellite’. With a spacey atmosphere unlike any other track from ‘Harry’s House’, it is likely to enjoy similar success as the lead single.
Styles returns to the delicate guitar characteristics of ‘Matilda’ with the penultimate track ‘Boyfriends’, gently easing us into the album’s conclusion ‘Love Of My Life’. This final track fuses together the contrasting sounds heard throughout ‘Harry’s House’, prominent 80s synths align with confessional lyrics, flowing vocals and ballad sensibilities. In the end, we are left with the breakdown of isolated and echoing piano keys, as if the record itself is taking a breath to reflect on the eclectic journey of intimacy laid bare and dazzling showmanship.
This complex pop record, put together with Styles’ longtime collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson, subverts expectations while reaffirming his place as a pop icon unafraid of breaking the mould.
’Harry’s House’ is released on Friday 20 May via Columbia Records