As we hit the dog days of summer, the artist who’s started to soundtrack everyone’s pool parties is multi-hyphenate sex symbol Harry Styles. In May, Styles released Harry’s House, an album propelled by the number-one hit “As It Was.” Despite having critical and commercial success, a barb often thrown at the album is the idea of it being inoffensive: pleasant, “easy listening” music apt for an elevator, grocery store, or, perhaps, a sushi restaurant.
Fans of Styles have warmly accepted this, and come to love his sly appreciation of different decades of pop-music history. The latest album reveals an interesting connection to one era in particular: the 1980s and the percussive, full-bodied horn sections that came with it.
The first track on Harry’s House, “Music for a Sushi Restaurant,” offers a whole chorus of just horns in an homage to one of Styles’s musical touchstones, Peter Gabriel. These horns connect to a deep well of iconic ’80s tracks, from Lionel Richie to Donna Summer — and announce Styles’s aiming for the same air of sophisticated funk.
In the Switched on Pop episode “Harry and the Sledgehammer Horns,” we discuss the influences at work on the album and the impact that sound has on Styles’s songwriting. You can listen below or anywhere you get podcasts.