Music

Why 'Harry's House' Is Harry Styles' Best Album Yet

In the new episode of our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, Rob Sheffield and Brittany Spanos join host Brian Hiatt for a track-by-track analysis of Harry Styles’ new album, Harry’s House.

To hear the whole episode, press play above, or listen on or Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Here’s a preview of some of the discussion:

“Music for a Sushi Restaurant”

Hiatt: It does seem to be advertising a sort of freedom and confidence in the very wacky synth horn parts and almost Oingo Boingo-ness of that.

Spanos: I absolutely love this song. It’s definitely in my top three of the album, with a little “Soul to Squeeze”-type scatting in there.

Sheffield: That little synth horn break is so specifically 1986, it’s kind of mind-blowing. There’s a lot of Eighties R&B on this record. A huge influence on the record, to my ears, is Billy Ocean.

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“Late Night Talking”

Hiatt: There’s a part that sounds a bit like the part in Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” that she got sued over. Not saying there’s any liability here. It’s just funny.

Sheffield: This song taps into the zone before Thriller, but after Off the Wall. You can hear a lot of Rick James going on. It’s a perfect template for the vibe Harry is going for on a lot of the album.

“Grapejuice”

Spanos: “Grapejuice” definitely feels like [1999 one-hit wonders] Len’s “Steal My Sunshine.” This is the time to talk about Len’s influence!

Sheffield: Also a very strong Paul McCartney circa 1975-76 influence. Wings at the Speed of Sound, which is an era of Paul McCartney that nobody ever takes overt inspiration from.

“Matilda”

Sheffield:  It was honestly unlike anything I’ve seen at a live show because everybody was so loud for all the other songs, and with “Matilda,” it was silent as a whisper. People were sobbing and just taking this song in. It was a very emotionally powerful hush. It’s a song about listening to someone, and it’s a very difficult and tricky thing to do.

“Cinema”

Spanos: I just feel like it’s so influenced by the way that the live band plays the music. During “Watermelon Sugar,” he would do a very similar breakdown. It’s wonderful to see that reflected on this particular album.

Hiatt: I’m pretty sure it’s about a pop star dating a movie star.

Sheffield: Like that could happen!

“Keep Driving”

Spanos: This is my Number One. James Joyce is shaking. It’s full stream of consciousness. The way that it sounds and the way that it flows, it’s very clearly, “Here are all these things about this person or this moment that I’m going back to and replaying and that I love so much.”

Sheffield: It’s full of domestic references. It’s another one that hearkens back to the theme of home and creating home where you can, and finding it in having a very messy breakfast.

Hiatt: The “cocaine/side boob” kind of breakfast?

Sheffield: Yeah, exactly… All these images come down to just the central question: “Should we just keep driving?” Which is such a romantic question in itself.

“Boyfriends”

Hiatt: I was happy to see in an interview that Harry meant to include himself in the condemnation of bad boyfriends, because otherwise he left himself open to accusations of pandering to his audience. I personally could have used an additional verse where he explicitly admits that this has been him in the past.

Sheffield: But that would’ve been a different song. I like the song being what it is. I like that it’s short and sweet.

Spanos: I think it kind of does work that way already, [implying], “I am aware that I also do this.”

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