Review On: ‘As It Was’ – Harry Styles

“Harry Styles could release an album of him snoring and I’d still listen to it. I’d be like ‘wow, groundbreaking’”

He’s done it again. Styles has begun a new era of Harry, setting his fans on fire once again. And I’m one of them. Once a member of the boy-band One Direction, many people underestimated his ability to break into the industry alone, but my God, he’s not only there, but he owns it.

His first album, Harry Styles, blinded us with Sign of the Times as the first single, introducing us to a new Style(s) (get it) and continued to blow us away with a mixture of soft rock and rock with a little bit of pop thrown in. But it wasn’t the switch to another generic genre that got me about his move to being a single artist, it was this intense individualism that sounded angelic in some cases and I hadn’t heard it before.

By Fine Line, Harry had of course broken the stereotype of bubblegum pop and his first single, Lights Up, gave into a more mellow, soft pop. But when it comes to the full album, Styles revealed  the inspirations span all the way from Country to R&B, inviting us to listen to an amalgamation of eclectic sounds.

And here we are, the first single from his third album, As It Was. Fast paced, Sunny and his soft toned voice invite us to explore new ideas but with the ghosts of the last two albums. More ‘pop’ than I expected, but the beauty of involving synth, drums and even what sounds like church bells, means that it’s impossible to put Harry Styles into a box. His music spills out of the genres and into our lives every single time. 

Despite the joyous tones of the music, the lyrics are a whole different story. Tinged with sadness, I often wonder what it’s like for Harry. Thrown into fame at 16 and from an ordinary family in Holmes Chapel, it must be impossible to get simple advice from his family like most of us do. His body is his image and as much as I like to believe he is freely expressing, I do wonder how much is controlled – could he be the antithesis of free? The lyrics suggest loneliness and a yearning for what once was – wanting to go back to ‘as it was’.

Gloria Steinem said ‘The truth will set you free, but first it’ll piss you off’ and although this isn’t a feminist or radical movement, I do believe this quote can remind us that not everything is as it seems. As beautiful, effeminate and extraordinary as Styles appears, this new single gives us a snapshot into the loneliness of one of the biggest stars of the 21st Century. 

As It Was is gorgeous. Harry Styles’ music means something. I’m on edge, waiting to hear the whole of Harry’s House when it’s released in May, as even the title suggests that this album is going to come from within. It’s going to be personal, it’s going to be honest and yet again, it’s going to be beautiful.