Why are we in Harry’s House? Why else, of course, but because we are Harry’s boo.
Harry has long since left boy band vernacular behind. But he has maintained, put a twist upon, its fundamental device: make the listener feel as though you could be, would be, yearn to be their boyfriend. Or in this case, ex-boyfriend.
So Harry’s House invites you in, to share Harry’s world, to be the stuff of Harry’s memories, the candle he still holds. It’s a grown-up life of domesticity, dates, holidays – the arc of a love affair, its hearts and its bones, traced over 13 songs and two distinct sides (Harry’s into vinyl, natch).
If this sounds cloying or gimmicky, the triumph of Harry’s House is to render it anything but. Charm, not smarm, is Harry’s way, and were this album any more charming, you might dissolve in its presence.
Harry and key accomplice Kid Harpoon have refined their winning approach of reliving the soft-rock and adult pop Seventies in the anything-goes 21st century. So persuasive is it that any brief moment of contemporaneity (a flicker of Auto-Tune, say) startles us.
Harry’s light, high voice is treated like that of his earlier namesake, Harry Nilsson: echoing, double-tracked, all understated softness and sweetness. From Taylor Swift he has learned drifty colloquial narrative. Some moments could sit on a hip retro indie record by, say, Midlake or Fleet Foxes and sound perfectly at home.
Harry’s House never drags, never wheedles. It has just the right amount of air in it. Its gentle tread puts not so much as a pinky toe wrong. If its predecessor, Fine Line, was a nicely confected cream puff, this is an artful soufflé.
Above all, Harry understands all your boyfriends – he sings of them, as if he were both Simon and Garfunkel, on a song named after them – only he truly gets you. He pines for you now you’ve moved on, quietly heartsore, there for you always.
If only Harry were your ex, everything would be delightful. And for the better part of an hour, he is, and it is.