‘Harry’s House’ is filled with bittersweet happiness

Harry Styles’ third studio album blends mature lyrics with repetitively buoyant production


Columbia Records

The “Harry’s House” album cover features Styles in a brightly lit, upside down room.

Aashi Venkat

From “Music For a Sushi Restaurant” to “Love Of My Life,” Harry Styles’ newest studio album offers a raw set of lyrics mixed with a feel-good production. Released on May 20 as Styles’ third studio album, “Harry’s House” has a tracklist of 13 songs: the longest of Styles’ current discography.

The album begins with “Music For a Sushi Restaurant,” which serves as the perfect album opener — the music is upbeat, the lyrics are catchy and humorous and the synthetic ambiance does a wondrous job of drawing the audience in and keeping them engaged. This airy, groovy tone is further set in “Late Night Talking,” establishing the album as cohesive and heightening the audience’s interest. 

By the time listeners get to the third track, “Grapefruit,”  or the fourth track, “As It Was,”  it is clear “Harry’s House” has ingrained Styles’ ever-present blend of an airy tonality and a dark set of lyrics — the audience is set in a pleasant summer day that is threatened by the dark clouds lurking over the horizon. 

The album is colored yellow with subtle streaks of blue. Graphic by Aashi Venkat

The fact that the album presents itself as simple and carefree makes the inclusion of this blend very impressive. Styles was able to include powerful lyrics such as “A small concern with how the engine sounds / We held darkness in withheld clouds” in “Keep Driving” and “A broken ankle, karma rules / You never saw my birthmark” in “Little Freak” while also ensuring that the album exudes a sense of positivity.

This masquerade of positivity is shattered in the emotionally hard-hitting seventh track, “Matilda,” as it reflects upon the internal crisis that originates from growing up and escaping an abusive childhood. Through the lyrics, Styles offers his forgiveness to the fictional character Matilda, confirmed to be adapted from the Matilda in Roald Dahl’s “Matilda,” as she blames herself for the state of affairs her family put her through. With a simple instrumental slowly leading into Styles’ somber vocals, the track flows similar to waves rolling over a misty horizon. The track’s lyricism also tells a complete story of self-forgiveness from prior trauma — the lyrics go from “Nothing ’bout the way that you were treated ever seemed / especially alarming ’til now” to “I know they won’t hurt you anymore / As long as you can let them go,” effectively conveying the heartbreak from realizing and accepting the trauma from one’s past, despite it occurring many years ago. 

The lyrics in Styles’ “Matilda” are rich with emotion. Graphic by Aashi Venkat

The album quickly transitions back into its original tone with the eighth track, “Cinema,” catching the audience off-guard with its romantic, almost sexual, lyricism. Breaking the album’s cohesivity and establishing the album as more diverse, the transition between the seventh and eighth tracks further define “Harry’s House” as a work single-handedly crafted under Styles’ artistic touch. 

In comparison to Styles’ previous work, “Harry’s House” is missing the signature flair of unique memorability that Styles’s music is famous for providing. Albums such as “Fine Line” have a relatively wide range in its tracklist and are characterized in a way that allows each track to be memorable. Yet, “Harry’s House” is severely lacking in terms of its track diversity, with numerous songs being lost in a pool of similarity — the only songs that take a break from Styles’ redundant feel-good persona are “Matilda” and “Boyfriends.” Throughout the album, synthetic beats, rapid pace and whimsical background instrumentals are grossly overdone, making the audience feel like they’re in a drug-induced fever dream by the time they reach the end. Although this dream is not necessarily bad, it does go on to make the album feel somewhat generic and forgettable.

In its buoyant entirety, “Harry’s House” is the perfect album to blast this summer. The musicality and cohesivity are both a complete step up from Styles’ previous work, and the lyricism is notably exceptional — all of which establish the album as a summertime work of art.