Review: Harry Styles Cements His Pop Rock Icon Status on ‘Harry’s House’

“The British singer has the talent and writing chops to see him at the top of the charts for years to come – decades if he wants”

If you think Harry Styles is everywhere now, you’ve got a big storm coming this Friday. I’ve just spent the day at Harry’s House – not his actual home (unfortunately) but romping through the hazy, sexy, wine soaked, cocaine-fuelled all-night house party that is his third album.

It must be noted (for both factual and legal reasons) that I sipped a coffee and nibbled on a choc-chip cookie while I listened alongside other music journos, but from the moment the bombastic opening track, Music For a Sushi Restaurant burst through the speakers, I pictured myself dancing on a coffee table, mega pint of wine in hand, surrounded by equally imbibed friends as we revelled into the early hours of the morning.

Seven years and three records into his solo career, Styles’ origin story is scarcely worth mentioning, let alone rehashing – so I won’t, except to say that Harry’s House should rightfully extinguish any flame even the staunchest One Direction fan holds for a reunion. To put it plainly, it would be an utter waste of Styles’ time and talent when his solo work is this damn good.

Musically, Harry’s House is a step up from his sophomore album – which was an absolutely cracking record. The industry is snobby when it comes to backgrounds like Styles’, however his debut album was met with critical acclaim, Fine Line proved it wasn’t a fluke and now Harry’s House will cement his pop rock icon status. The 28-year-old British singer has the looks, charm, talent, writing chops and showmanship to see him at the top of the charts and playing to heaving stadiums for years to come – decades if he wants.

When it comes to being the full package, it must be said that no man is doing it like Styles and if he continues this trajectory, there might finally be a millennial male pop solo artist that could aim to land in the same stratosphere of star power and success occupied by Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.

(Credit: Getty)

Harry’s House, while written during the pandemic (Styles completed it last year before he finally was able to tour Fine Line), to my great relief, is not a pandemic album in the sense that the themes and lyrics are timeless. None of us need to dwell on it, am I right? And I certainly don’t want to be dancing to wistful pandemic songs as international artists finally make their way back to Australia in the coming years, as Styles is set to do in March 2023.

But, like all of us in lockdown, Styles spent a lot of time with his own thoughts. Away from his homeland of England while he stayed with friends in Los Angeles, he thought about who he was without the music and dwelled on the concept of home.

As he told Better Homes and Garden magazine in a recent interview, “I realised that that home feeling isn’t something that you get from a house; it’s more of an internal thing. You realise that when you stop for a minute.”

The album makes references to a physical house – the kitchen gets several mentions, from the wholesome concept of Styles making coffee and cooking pancakes for two, to the illicit; a former lover doing lines of coke on the benchtop, and the domestic; another (or the same?) lover, sits atop the very same bench in a tracksuit ‘hiding the body yoga gave [her].’

As you’d expect from one of the world’s hottest popstars, plenty of time is spent enjoying the bedroom; see Cinema, a sexy striptease of a song with the lyrics, “You’re getting yourself wet for me, I guess you’re all mine, you’re sleeping in this bed with me.”

Styles has mentioned several times in interviews that he felt he played it too safe on his first record, metaphorically comparing it to ‘bowling with the lanes up’. It’s a sentiment confirmed by the significantly more risqué songs that didn’t make the album – Medicine, Baby Honey and Complicated Freak (yes, I know the last two were leaked, which we don’t condone, but anyone with a TikTok account has heard them on repeat for weeks). On Harry’s House, it’s safe to say the bowling lanes have well and truly been dismantled.    

Musically the track order is more consistent than his previous record. The tempo remains largely upbeat, except for the heartbreaking ballad Matilda, and self-reflective slow track, Boyfriends. A conscious choice by Styles who said to BH&G, “[The album] sounds like the biggest, and the most fun, but it’s by far the most intimate.”

He explores that concept further with Zane Lowe in his Apple Music interview when talking about lead single and current number one on the ARIA singles chart, “As It Was to me is like, bittersweet,” Styles says of his toe-tapping dance bop. “To me it’s like, really devastating and it was very much written that way. I have the voice memo that it was written and it’s very… it’s a death march.”

As a result, lyrically and thematically, the narrative is a perplexing and emotional rollercoaster. Is he heartbroken? Is he in love? Is he having the time of his life or is he sitting on the floor alone? Midway through, the party at Harry’s House is starting to feel like Euphoria’s NYE bash, and I dig it.

(Credit: Getty)

Daydreaming is, for me, the weakest song on the album and a break in momentum (let’s blame John Mayer, who plays guitar on the track), but it’s swiftly followed by Keep Driving – an instant vibe and a fast favourite. Indeed, when I finally get the album for keeps on Friday I will be driving through Hawaii’s North Shore and playing that track on repeat. Once I’ve had my fill, it will be straight to Little Freak, Daylight and Grapejuice, before playing it top to toe.

Track 11, Satellite was a surprise standout. It gets off to a slow start, but shifts gears at the chorus, giving the emotionally heart wrenching lyrics a similar treatment to As It Was.

Speaking of surprises, there are always odd little quirks on Harry’s records – Self Titled heard YouTuber FrankJavCee ask leading in to Woman, “Should we just search for romantic comedies on Netflix and see what we can find?’; Fine Line’s Cherry peters out with a distorted telephone call recording of Harry’s former flame Camille Rowe speaking French (cou cou), and current smash hit As It Was opens with a voicemail of a precocious child expressing disappointment that the star had failed to answer the phone and wish her goodnight. There’s more to discover, starting with Music For a Sushi Restaurant; bet you never thought you’d hear Harry Styles scat… and as you’ll hear, it totally works.

The penultimate track is Boyfriends, which Styles debuted during his Coachella set last month announcing, “to boyfriends everywhere, fuck you.” What follows is a ballad that examines the generally crap treatment anyone with an ex-boyfriend has endured. According to the singer, it was inspired by both his own past behaviour as a boyfriend, as well as the way his friends and sister have been treated. It touches a nerve and brings me back to hungover Sundays in my early twenties spent trying to make sense of conversations and texts from an ex.

I’ve almost lost friends over saying this, but my least favourite Harry Styles song was the closing track on Fine Line, which shares the same name as the album. I’m pleased to report the final track on Harry’s House, Love of My Life, is rich, beautiful and left me wanting more. Which is how all the best parties end.

After I left Harry’s House for the first time, a friend (who is undoubtedly Australia’s best music journo and has interviewed Styles on several occasions) asked me if this album is Harry’s 1989. “No”, I replied, “it’s his Red.”

I’ll let you know if he agrees.    

Harry’s House by Harry Styles is available to buy, stream and download on Apple Music and Spotify this Friday. For more information, including tour go to

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