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Harry Styles, 'As It Was'

Harry Styles' "As It Was" bottles sunshine in a song, but with a dreary melancholy. The synth-heavy intro is perfect for racing down Pacific Coast Highway with the top down. The groovy electric guitar licks inject the song with an infectious energy. If you are sorely missing the reign of Tumblr music — think The XX, Passion Pit — then this is absolutely the song for you.

But take a closer listen to the first single from Harry's House (out May 20) and you'll find a poignant lyrical exploration of loss and loneliness: "Answer the phone / Harry, you're no good alone / Why are you sitting at home on the floor / What kind of pills are you on?" Styles slips in autobiography, too, perhaps the closest he's ever been to directly addressing his love life. Whereas Fine Line was coy in its references to heavy themes like loss, depression and drug use, this single seems to signal Styles' willingness to confront those topics head on, pretty unapologetically.

"As It Was" feels both risky and vulnerable in a way that's different from his solo work so far. If this is Harry Styles inviting us into his metaphorical home, it seems like it's a lot messier and more complicated than he's ever let on.

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Cat Sposato