Harry is back! His debut solo record paid homage to 70s rock with its epic Beatles inspired tracks and fuzzy bass. Harry followed that up with straight pop record with some singer songwriter vibes on Fine Line. His new single As it Was turns the clock back again, but this time he grounds his sound within an 80s pop / alternative aesthetic. As the lead single for his upcoming record Harry’s House, it is interesting to think about where the rest of the album is going to go.
I’m not gonna lie, this is a straight up mix of a-ha’s Take on Me and The Cure’s Close to Me. I mean, you can be forgiven for thinking it is a collaboration with a-ha due to how close the opening notes are with Take on Me. I listened to them back to back and it was really close. However, if you are going to look for inspiration…Take on Me and Close to Me are great places to start.
The sparse synth, vocal way up front in the mix and note progression are definite shout outs to those tracks. However, Harry manages to wear his inspiration on his sleeve for all to see without the track coming off as gimmicky. Much like his debut record, he can take those classic touchtones and put his own stamp on them. It’s like having a Cherry Coke, but with grenadine and real cherries instead of just out of a can…it has the classic flavours you are used to, but it still feels new somehow. The familiar notes are there, but it is tweaked just enough to stay fresh.
I think it is Harry’s vocal that is the grenadine and cherries in this 80s fountain Coke track. His vocals are so warm and lush that it gives the entire track a fresh feel. I adore his vocals on this track. On previous records we have heard Harry belt it out and get all 70s rock on it. However, this track shows an intimate side to his vocal that we normally don’t see. Having his vocal so far up in the mix, especially in the first few verses, is both soothing and personal. At times you feel that Harry is singing just for you. It is this vocal talent that elevates As it Was above a simple 80s mimic.
I think I have listened to this track 50 times already. Unlike previous tracks, this is a quick 2:47 and you can easily have one listen flow into another…and another…and another…and…OH MY GOD, IT’S 11:30pm ALREADY! I love Harry Styles, so I am a bit biased, but I see this record as another hit for him. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the record.
Listen to As it Was