If the 13 tracks of Harry Styles’ third LP are the walls in which he lives, “Harry’s House” is a place of self-expression, happiness and healing. From the jubilant, funky “Cinema,” to the meandering cruiser “Keep Driving,” Styles shows a breadth of style that matches the album’s emotional range.
Styles set the tone for the album with his single “As It Was.” The up-tempo track sounds carefree at first listen, but the lyrics reveal a heavier premise. It’s a song that thematically explores the fear and pain associated with accepting that you must let something, or someone, go. It’s a single that teases Styles’ comfort with vulnerability — something that he displays countless times on the record.
Similarly, “Grapejuice” is deceivingly upbeat with synthesized horns and even a subtle, cheerful whistle at the end of the second verse. The song chronicles a relationship’s end (“There’s never been someone who’s so perfect for me/ But I got over it”) and how just as a hangover feels harder with age, it is harder, too, to hide from your emotions the older you get (“I pay for it more than I did back then”). Even when teasing out uncomfortable moments, the musical composition suggests there’s freedom in fully embracing each feeling.
In “Harry’s House,” Styles proves his talent for storytelling — whether it’s his own stories of pain or joy or putting himself in the shoes of another. Perhaps the most heartbreaking track is “Matilda” — a song that made several of his friends cry on first listen, according to his interview with Zane Lowe.
Throughout the record, Styles is confident, but not cocky, bringing self-awareness and ease into each song. “Harry’s House” finds him at his best — free, observant and content. RAGAN CLARK, MDT/AP