His new album bucks the trend and you’ve got to admire Harry Styles. It isn’t a law or anything, but for someone who came through ‘X Factor’ and boy band One Direction, his solo work stands out.
He has done things differently in other ways, mentioning UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson and ex-National Union of Mineworkers boss Arthur Scargill when discussing his look with the Sunday People in 2013, the Daily Mirror reported; you don’t get that with Blue, do you?
And his last solo album bucked trends too, ‘Fine Line’ had Harry resplendent in cerise shirt and white strides, the music within strove to break out of chart expectation too.
And now Harry Styles’ new one, Harry’s House, does that too.
What’s The Chart Expectation Then?
80’s Pop feel.
So many artists follow this trend, it’s comfortable, it has a good outcome for attention and even sales – it’s to be expected.
Harry Styles doesn’t do that. Not sure he even considered it. His music comes from a different place, a place of big leather coats, oil crises, and Soul suites.
So much of this comes from the ’70s. And then he messes with it.
How So, Harry Styles?
Take the opener, ‘Music For A Sushi Restaurant’, which has a title akin to a mid 70’s Stevie Wonder track; it sounds like upbeat Soul with an old heart, a big bass, and a strangulated vocal with horns jabbing at you.
And then ‘Grapejuice’ doesn’t let up with the slightly skewed Soul scene, Styles’ strangulated falsetto with attendant bleeps, and then, just to take us out, a sweet Yacht Rock section.
Surely There Must Be Something That Conforms
Well, ‘As It Was’ does have an AHA feel which many will love and ‘Little Freak’ isn’t as outré as the title might suggest, it’s Sparse Soul.
But when he does the confessional feel, as on ‘Matilda’, there’s a warmth in the acoustic and vocal, he doesn’t force anything, never seems to shout ‘look at me being all soft and yielding’; this is about what the song needs, purely that.
Give Us Some More Good Stuff, Then
Try the Lonnie Liston Smith smooth 70s Soul of ‘Daydreaming’, which then brings in female backing singers and an illuminated dancefloor for a Disco date. And the smooth Soul of ‘Satellite’ shines with a sleek strut. Harry Styles knows exactly how to visit the past and bring it to the present for the future.
Why Should I Bother With Harry Styles?
Because Harry doesn’t think like a Popstar. According to Pitchfork;
‘Meanwhile, he’s got Mick Fleetwood peddling his nail polish.’
It just goes to show the close curating of music on Harry’s House;
‘Its sounds—which move through funk, folk, and 2010s Tumblr-pop—are friendly and familiar enough to satisfy passive listening, but deftly executed, with a surplus of style and whimsy that rewards a more active ear.’
That’s important as here you can pick the way you’d like to listen, it’s up to you what you want to strain and ear to each time you listen, but for that, depth is needed.
The Guardian may talk of;
‘The transition from manufactured scream-inducing teen idol to more mature artist’
but Harrys House isn’t about that sort of maturity, the musical maturity comes first, and that allows the performer to open up too.
Not thinking as others do gives you real benefits but it takes courage, the NME are close with their view of ‘the aural equivalent of a vintage filter’, but it sounds more organic than that.
This doesn’t sound tacked on or added in, this is growing with Harry Styles. And it isn’t just that, he’s going to cross boundaries, but he knows where he’s going with his music.
What Is Harry’s House?
A 70’s build, good to look at but inside even better, a leather sunken circular seat in the middle of the lounge, a roaring fire with a sheepskin rug, and a garden that stretches as far as the eye can see..just the distance, a crystal waterfall. Sounds extraordinary? Harry Styles can make you believe it.
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