Harry Styles’ latest album tells the story of his inner life. He meditates on former and current relationships throughout, and the sound is based on the Japanese city-pop genre. Accordingly, it incorporates pop, funk, and R&B influences. The songs have resonated with longtime fans since they were leaked shortly before the album’s release.
Harry’s House boasts several chart-topping songs, with four concurrent Top 10 hits. Styles was the first British solo artist to achieve this feat. And among all British acts, he shares that honor with the Beatles alone.
Sound-wise, the album is bright and smooth. Styles’ relatable reflections carry with them a certain charm, and the songs tell vivid lyrical short stories. That said, Styles doesn’t hold back from including problematic messages and references. Many will find his sexual themes, as well as an apparent preoccupation with drugs and alcohol the most concerning of these problems.
Harry Styles pours his heart out to a woman in several songs, and he makes claims about being in love.
In “Late Night Talking,” Harry admits he can’t get a particular woman “off [his] mind.” He doesn’t hesitate to take responsibility for his mistakes, and he says that he loves someone deeply in “As it Was.” In fact, he feels like life just isn’t the same without her.
Styles also hopes a young woman who was abused as a child can mature past that trauma in the song “Matilda”: “They won’t hurt you anymore” he promises. Styles seems to be upset by the treatment a young woman is receiving from her boyfriend in “Boyfriends”; and he’s frustrated that she’s “back at it again,” even though she knows better.
Styles often regretfully references his own poor treatment of women as well as his inability to recognize their value until after the relationship is over—content that could be construed in both positive and problematic ways, depending on a listener’s perspective.
The sexual content of this album is frequent and inappropriate. Seven songs incorporate sexual references or innuendos.
“Music for a Sushi Restaurant” weaves sensuality and sushi together in suggestive ways, as Styles tells a woman that he could “could cook/an egg on [her].” On “Daylight,” we hear him “cursing the daylight” when morning arrives after, presumably, an amorous evening.
“Little Freak” mostly deals with emotional heartbreak but does mention a “wet dream.” Lyrics also call a woman “Jezebel,” a reference to a particularly infamous Old Testament pagan woman. Sexually suggestive lyrics in “Cinema” involve dancing and intimacy.
As the album progresses, it’s clear Styles enjoys sleeping with a woman so much that starts worrying about whether he is “too into [her].” And on the song “Daydreaming,” a woman asks him to love [her] like [he] paid [her].” Provocative and violent lyrics in “Keep Driving” reference a woman’s breast, as well as a man choking her “with a sea view.” “Boyfriends” includes a lyric about a man thinking a woman is “easy.”
Styles also sings about alcohol and drugs a lot. “Grapejuice” mentions enjoying a “bottle of rouge” with his girlfriend. “Little Freak” and “Keep Driving” mention wine. Unnamed drugs turn up in “As it Was,” where Sty mentions pills, although it is unclear whether they are medicinal or recreational. “Daylight” and “Keep Driving” mention cocaine. “Cinema” mentions “doses” and the “high.”
Besides generally questionable attitudes toward life and mentions of vague mental health struggles, the only other lyrical choice worth mentioning in this album is his name for the woman in “Little Freak.” He calls her Jezebel, which carries an interesting weight in a Christian context.
Harry Styles seems to feel things quite deeply, which gives his songs a cathartic, emotional element at times. It’s not hard to see why he has so many followers—especially the young, female kind.
But while some of those fans and listeners might be tempted to minimize the album’s problems—there’s no profanity here, they might say in Style’s defense—suggestive and sensual lyrics remain impossible to ignore. Add in references to alcohol and drug use, and Harry’s House becomes a destination families will want their children to avoid.
Marsella Evans is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2022.