- 20 May 22
Hats off to Harry. He may be knocking around in his Nan’s pearls and jumper – and the blouse she wore to the last coronation on the cover of this - but at least he’s making an effort, and it’s an effort infinitely preferable to the blokey, everyman, nice guy, just-one-of-us persona that pop stars should never have. They’re supposed to be different, or else what’s the point?
Were One Direction any use? Not from what I remember blasting through my daughter’s bedroom door. (“You could have gone back and listened” – Ed. That’s right, I could have.) I did, however, nod appreciatively when that same daughter played me his rather excellent ‘Sign Of The Times’ single. She then played the rest of 2017’s imaginatively titled Harry Styles album. That sounded pretty good too. Sales figure indicate I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
2019’s Fine Line had ‘Watermelon Sugar’ on it and there was no arguing with that, or stopping the finger tapping on the steering wheel when it came on the car radio. In 2022 Styles is so massive – two nights in Wembley stadium and a sold-out Aviva gig coming up next month - that Harry’s House, either named for his doubtless palatial gaff or half a track on Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing Of Summer Lawns, would have to be an awful pile of muck not to keep the ball rolling.
It's far from that. Some of it, like ‘Keep Driving’, ‘Satellite’, which, to be fair, does try to ‘drop a beat’ somewhere around the three-minute mark, ‘Boyfriends’ or ‘Love Of My Life’, does drift by in a wallpapery, hook-free fashion; but never mind, Styles is canny enough to stuff all that down the back of the record. When Harry's House is good, it’s pretty good.
The horns kick rubbery-bass driven opener ‘Music For A Sushi Restaurant’ into technicolour and, while it’s not the greatest song ever written, the bounce of ‘Late Night Talking’ might attract people of a certain age – my age – back to the dance floor they haven’t visited in decades. There’s a pleasingly steady throb to ‘Grapejuice’ as Style’s voice – hardly opera’s loss – intones something about buying flowers for you in 1982, which reminds me, ‘As It Was’ is, as a pal of mine pointed out, appropriately named because it’s as it was when A-ha first recorded it in 1984. It certainly owes ‘Take On Me’ a few bob, but if you’re going to 'borrow' something…
Best of all, probably, is ‘Cinema’, which may have a Daft Punk record back in its flat, specifically the one where they tried to cop a bit of Chic’s groove. If he’s looking for the next single, here it is. ‘Daydreaming’, a cut that cries out for roller-skates beneath a mirrorball, is a good bet too.
Reviews don’t really matter to a record like this. Advance copies were only sent to a select few media outlets - "Tell that hack to get out of the scratcher if he wants to hear it!" - because it's impervious to critical opinion. You’re either in Styles' camp and you had Spotify open and waiting at midnight, or you aren’t and you didn’t. The in-no-way-terrible Harry’s House isn’t going to alter that much either way. It might not change the world, but you can be fairly sure it’s going to take it over for a while, and we've all been in tighter fixes than that.
- Live Review
- 04 Jul 22