In this world, it’s just us.
The first few sentiments of the chorus of Harry Styles' much anticipated new song As It Was hit like a punch to the guts, alongside a ceremonial jolt to the feet. It’s synthy, and electronic and if this first single is anything to go by, we can expect his upcoming third album Harry’s House to be walking into new terrain, dare we say backwards, in a lycra jumpsuit, on a turntable. Yes, we have officially entered his 80s era.
This is the first release of his since his 2019 certified platinum album Fine Line. With respect to his first solo release, the emotional 7 minute ballad, Sign of the Times, As It Was is up there as one of the most emotionally raw songs he has done. In it he confronts his personal demons with wild abandon, as shown in the chorus “You know it’s not the same as it was”.
What is As it Was about?
Like all his new era album releases, nothing is ever done in half measures; this has all the same stylistic panache of Lights Up and Sign of the Times, but is more exposed. Powerfully real, there is an air of grownup-ness about it, almost as if he’s taking the challenge of this next stage and willing to let us into his world, one that has been colourful and exciting but chaotic, pulling him in several different directions.
We would be remiss not to mention how this song feels markedly autobiographical. Beginning with the echo of children’s voices saying “Come, on, Harry, we wanna say good night to you!”. The song goes deep into feelings of isolation and separation, his vocals tinted with sad reflection. As always with his style of songwriting, much is left up to ambiguous interpretation, and the theme of relationship is cleverly woven in between the lines.
The video emotes the same level of internal friction, with Styles and a partner running in different directions, hands pried apart from one another's, on a Picasso-esque canvas, half undressed. The video was filmed in London by Ukrainian director Tanu Muino, which she mentioned was a “bittersweet experience” as it happened during the time the war was just breaking out in the Ukraine.
Styles has always made a statement of mixing glam rock / pop with his own brand of offbeat sentimentality, and it seems he’s only willing to keep pushing the envelope further with each new release. We eagerly await to see what else is to come out of Harry’s House. In the interim, you can watch the debut of his new newest song below.