Harry Styles ‘Harry’s House’ review: The album is intimate, funky

If you thought “Sign of the Times” was a bold departure for Harry Styles, wait until you hear his new album.

“Harry’s House,” which will be released on May 20, is the former One Direction idol’s biggest sonic change to date, leaving behind the ’70s rock vibe that launched his magnetic solo career in 2017 and the mushrooms that helped piece together his 2019 follow-up, “Fine Line,” for an incredibly funky, incredibly intimate record that lives up to its title.

Styles’ latest effort finds him singing about change and how it’s reshaping our paths. The effervescent lead single, “As It Was,” seems to reflect on his parents’ divorce as he seeks comfort from his dear mother and sister (“In This World It’s Just Us”), while “Matilda,” a pensive, folksy ode to growing up, emphasizes that home takes many forms (“You can throw a party with everyone you know / And don’t invite your family ’cause they never showed you a love”).

Harry Styles performing at Coachella.
Styles headlined Coachella in April.
Getty Images for ABA

From the whimsical falsetto vocals of “Satellite” to the masterfully melodic lyrics of “Daylight” (“Dip you in honey so I could be stick to you”), “Harry’s House” – much like Styles’ live gigs – is a land of game for inclusivity. All are welcome, and every story is worth sitting down for.

Styles, 28, grabs attention from the jump with a wonderful intro that’s exciting in more ways than one. Punctuated by literal brass and a groovy bassline, “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” drips with innuendo as Styles eroticizes fried rice, ice cream and blue bubblegum (the man correctly wrote “Watermelon Sugar ” after all). He’s even more sexually open on the suave “Cinema,” purring lines like “You pop when we get intimate” with John Mayer on electric guitar.

Harry Styles smiling in a white shirt.
Styles launched his solo career in 2017 after hiatus from One Direction.
Lilie Eiger

But it wouldn’t be a Harry Styles album without some vulnerable moments too. The most painful, “Love of My Life,” is poetic on paper as Style mourns a relationship he didn’t want to leave behind, but his Hitchcockian delivery has the growl of a menacing ex. The smoldering “Little Freak,” meanwhile, is painted with regret as he delicately admits to a former flame, “I disrespected you.”

It’s perhaps no surprise that the stars here are the two songs Styles hand-picked to debut during his Coachella headliner in April: “Boyfriends,” a simple ditty that highlights value her buttery-smooth vocals and blast men’s assholes, and “Late Night Talking,” a seductive, straight-out-of-the-80s dance bop that’s the closest thing we’ve ever gotten to his “Levitating”.

Led and co-produced by Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson, Styles’ band is also in great shape. Together, they make “Daydreaming,” sampled by Brothers Johnson, feel like it’s lounging on a cloud of cotton candy and the trippy “Grapejuice” like it’s 1969 all over again.

Some might argue that “Harry’s House”, joyous as it is, isn’t as instantaneous or radio-friendly as “Fine Line”, but that’s the beauty of a virtuoso like Styles. He’s a 21st century rock god who doesn’t need to please anyone. After all, we are just guests in his house.

About the author