ALBUM REVIEW: Harry Styles, Harry’s House
This new Harry Styles album is…extremely safe. Now if this was a house that I was inspecting for safety, maybe one belonging to Harry perhaps, I would have little to write up because it’s up to code. The style is classic yet there are some modern flourishes, it matches the blueprints and it’s functional. The pictures online seem to match up with what is on display, the aesthetic is intact, it’s clean and smells pleasant. However, I am not a home inspector but instead an unemployed man writing about pop music. Here at AntiArt, we are not hazard averse. The more live electric wires hanging from the ceilings and filth caking the walls the better, maybe the whole structure will even collapse or be set on fire. Wouldn’t that be a sight?! Make no mistake, I don’t expect an ex-One Direction member to make fucking The Downward Spiral or The Money Store. However, when I see artists like yeule or even The Weeknd veering into dangerous territory with modern pop, it excites me. The wallpaper music on Harry’s House doesn’t excite me, at all.
My main issue with Styles has never been his voice or songwriting, I think “Sign of the Times” and “Adore You” speak for themselves in that regard. What separates him from modern greats like Abel Tesfaye and Matt Healy (of The 1975) is his lack of originality and taste. When a great filmmaker like Brian DePalma dropped a controversial film like Scarface, he took flak from the industry and the public because it was perceived to be harmful. New ideas are originally read as dangerous until they are diluted to a level that all people can digest. In the ‘80s, DePalma struggled to get the film into theaters. After its success, Hollywood pumped out copycats and products were created around it. Harry Styles is for people too scared to listen to Low by David Bowie and too lazy to run back Peter Gabriel. Styles is content to let people like his predecessors and contemporaries do all the heavy lifting while he just plays dress up.
Now here comes the part about lacking taste, what is the first song title on this album? That’s right, “Music For A Sushi Restaurant”. With horns and keyboards like this cut has, it should be called “Music For Patrick Bateman To Kill Paul Allen To”. It has a “cool” pastiche supported by a decent, if not annoying, instrumental. One of my mutuals put on their story, “It’s giving nothing”, and I absolutely agree. This is like a deep cut you’d find on a Hall and Oates album that’s $2 at your local record store. “Late Night Talking” plays on the strong suits of Harry’s limited abilities with a cheeky keyboard melody and some odd little vocal samples. Nothing to speak on lyrically, though. On “As It Was” is tried-and-turn 2010s indie pop with really basic vocals. I feel like I’m seeing Two Door Cinema Club at Central Park Summerstage, and they’re playing a new song. You know your boy is going to re-up on beer at this moment.
“Daylight” is basically a deep cut off a Paul McCartney solo record you could find at your local record store for $3 crossed with The Chainsmokers. Not feeling it at all. “Little Freak” is pretty horny with its lyrics about a “jezebel” with hot yoga body, and pretty mystical with its references to crystal balls. It would be hot if the acoustic guitar passages weren’t so mind numbly boring, and his whisper quiet vocals don’t add anything either. “Cinema” is just funk-revivalism a la Random Access Memories or Blood Orange, with more boring ass vocals. I truly do not understand where his presence as a frontman has gone, the writing and singing on this album is some of the most uninspired I’ve heard all year, in any genre. Let me just sample some lyrics for you before I just wrap this review up, “if you're feeling down, I just wanna make you happier”, “there’s no getting through, the grape juice blues”, “hashbrown, egg yolk, I will always love you”. Again, this man has no taste. Just look at his Dazed or Better Homes & Gardens for confirmation.
There are some cool stereo mixed sonics like the walking noises and space synths on “Satellite”, but that’s about it. He is too cool to shoot for anything beyond a musical vibe, and that’s just so severely disappointing to me. Also one last thing before I end it, “Boyfriends” is such an insipid fucking dirty macking ballad. It’s just Harry preying on this girl’s insecurities with her relationship that she probably confided in him about. He is criticizing this imaginary man for shit that he is inevitably going to do with this girl. Ran through men, you lose them in the same way that you find them, cheating. I really expected to like this to some extent, but I think this is the worst type of music to review. It’s not horrific enough for me to dive bomb dump on like Ed Sheeran’s last effort, but it’s also doesn’t even pass the sensors in the same way Doja Cat’s music does. I am distracted by its inadequacies, but I’m at a loss for words to fully describe them. For that violation, I’m going to have to condemn Harry’s House, bring in the wrecking ball, let's get to work. (I’ve gotten sassier since switching back to writing).