After three years of waiting, Harry Styles’ highly anticipated album, “Harry’s House,” debuted worldwide May 20. It didn’t take long for his most recent LP to become the fastest-selling album of 2022, setting records on Billboard Charts, Spotify and Apple Music.
Fans have awaited the album’s debut since the release of the single “As It Was.” The track provided listeners with a premature taste of “Harry’s House,” a contrast of upbeat melodies and sobering lyrics that Styles croons to his audience, lamenting on times changed. The single broke Spotify records for most globally streamed song in a single day, bringing in 21.6 million streams.
Fans of the pop star remarked upon their hesitance to create expectations for his third album, noting his ability to consistently surprise audiences with new rhythms and lyrical styles.
“I had no expectations, which made it really flow for me. I feel like he is someone that can really evolve in his music, so I didn’t have any expectations for it to be worse or better than the last album. I wouldn’t say it surprised me just because I only expect him to take time to produce quality music no matter what it sounds like,” Curran Murray, a third-year interdisciplinary liberal studies student, said.
“Harry’s House,” a nod to the Japanese singer-songwriter Haruomi Hosono’s 1973 album “Hosono House,” alluded to a more intimate view of the singer’s personal life. Fans were pleasantly surprised by a combination of funky synth sounds and sentimental lyrics.
Madi Oswalt, a first-year journalism major and a dedicated Styles fan, tried to ignore the predictions circulating prior to the album’s release.
“While there were rumors about the album having a more rock sound to it, I have learned to not really trust anything until it is officially announced in this fandom. So I was not expecting anything from this album except for it to be the real Harry we had all been waiting to welcome,” Oswalt said.
The album opens with “Music for a Sushi Restaurant,” a unique and new energy from Styles, blending funky pop with a smoother jazz element. The first song on the album sets the tone for a refreshing update to his evolving style.
“As a lifelong Harry fan, I’ve learned you can’t expect anything as he is full of surprises. The thing which took me aback, in a positive way, was how intimate the album was. Harry [Styles] has never been one to talk much about his relationships but this album really touched on it. He opened up to his fans and showed them a different side to who he is through his music,” Natalie Neumeier, a second-year political science student, said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Styles’ life shifted. His album “Fine Line” was released in December 2019 and his accompanying tour promised screaming crowds, flashing lights and packed schedules. When the world was effectively shut down, the star found himself stuck in LA and, for about six weeks, didn’t let the pressure to be productive get to him. Taking a break from creating or recording music during that time gave him perspective on how his never-ceasing busy schedule, which kicked off in 2010 when he shot to fame, prevented him from truly getting close to friends, family and partners.
In an exclusive interview with Better Homes & Gardens, a fitting choice considering the album’s title, Styles explained this dynamic.
“Whether it was with friends or people I was dating, I was always gone before it got to the point of having to have any difficult conversations,” Styles said. “I realized that that home feeling isn’t something that you get from a house; it’s more of an internal thing. You realize that when you stop for a minute.”
After beginning therapy five years ago, Styles described how he and his therapist have been able to metaphorically “open up rooms in himself,” a tie to themes explored in his album.
Styles has managed to steer his image away from the boy band days, which were chock-full of pressure to perform and garner the right type and level of attention. While his origins of fame will always be rooted in One Direction, he noted the importance of releasing that pressure and how it opens up a blank slate for original, genuine musical creation.
“I’ve always made my worst, most generic work when I’m just desperate to get a single,” he explained in his interview with Better Homes & Gardens. During his creation of “Harry’s House,” he focused less on making a hit album and more on extending the grounding time he experienced during the pandemic shutdown.
The results of his approach proved wildly successful, as illustrated by enthusiastic fan reviews and a string of shattered records.
Murray noted the authentic nature of the album.
“It made me appreciate music as an art form again. He put together an album rather than just trying to sell singles. A good album is always satisfying in the industry these days,” Murray said.
So far, the fan favorite tracks have proven to be “Matilda,” “Late Night Talking,” “Cinema” and “Love of my Life.”
“Matilda is speaking about someone who has always pushed their emotions aside in order to take care of everyone else, and now they are having to move on and grow up,” Oswalt said. “I highly recommend having a listen to Harry’s House so you can find a song that you relate to and feel the beauty of Harry Styles’ words.”
Each song on the album offers a unique listening experience, ranging from slower emotional ballads backed with gentle guitar plucking to energetic, boppy beats paired with fun lyrics. Fans will continue to revel in the ever evolving talent and refreshing creations of the star.
“Harry’s House” is available for streaming on various platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.