Harry Styles Makes a Triumphant Comeback with ‘As It Was’

Plus, Mariah Carey brings...something to 'Big Energy,' Kehlani and Justin Bieber travel back to the '90s, and RHCP still has it.


Hell yeah: Harry Styles, “As It Was” – I’m partial to any track that opens with a cute British kid’s voice making demands. In this case, it’s Harry Styles’s goddaughter, clearly annoyed that he didn’t answer her call to tell her goodnight. Can relate! In the lead single from his upcoming third album, Harry’s House (due out this May), Styles seems to wax poetic about a past lover who “can’t be replaced,” lingering on the specific, yet universal loneliness that settles in upon realizing they’ve moved on. If that sounds like something he’s done before, you’d be right. Only this time, it’s far more vulnerable, with the Grammy-winner fielding questions like: “Why are you sitting at home on the floor?/What kind of pills are you on?” to the beat of 80’s era synth. While it’s not overly sad, it’s not particularly optimistic either. No, Styles’s sound is clearly not the same as it was. It’s better. — Audra Heinrichs

Y: Kehlani featuring Justin Bieber, “up at night” – Will this be the track that brings a real ‘90s R&B sensibility to the top of the pop charts? It’s possible—Bieber’s still in his Midas phase where anything he touches is likely to at least go gold. “up at night” is entirely lovely—Kehlani’s delivery is genuine, Bieber refrains from overdoing it, and a sample of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation” pops its head out from time to time. Literally, what’s not to love? —Rich Juzwiak

Nah! This ain’t it! Latto featuring Mariah Carey and DJ Khaled, “Big Energy” – We want to love anything that includes the legendary Mariah Carey, especially when “Big Energy” pays homage to her 1995 hit single, “Fantasy,” which sampled from the 1981 track “Genius Of Love” by Tom Tom Club. Unfortunately, this collaboration falls flat. While Latto’s initial hit is featured on her album 777, and currently sits at No. 14 on Billboard Hot 100, this remix—which includes the addition of DJ Khaled—doesn’t do much except guarantee his payday after securing yet another so-called banger. Remixes only work when all the dots are properly connected and, this time, there was definitely a short-circuit. —Ezinne Ukoha

Yeah: slenderbodies, “husky brown” – Whisk me away to the tropics with this indie-pop duo, please!!! I’ve loved slenderbodies for years, and while this isn’t an instant classic for me, it’s making me lust aggressively after their new album (which is said to drop this summer). I’m putting on this beachy dreamscape for my next NYC rooftop outing because it makes me happy in the most earnest way, and nothing is earnest anymore! —Emily Leibert

Duh, John Frusciante’s back: Red Hot Chili Peppers, “These Are The Ways” – It’s a good day for devotees of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We’ve got the release of new album, Unlimited Love, and the long-awaited return of guitarist, John Frusciante, after a decade apart from the band. The album has already been lauded by critics and fans alike for managing to recapture the same funkadelic sound many fell in love with—one that’s heard in a softer, more melodic way on “These Are The Ways.” Can we all back it up/Can we all give it up?” the band asks. In short, yes. The boys may be getting up there in age, but they’ve still got it. — AH

Hot on the heels of LOVE IT: Kelly Lee Owens, “Sonic 8”- This week Welsh electronic musician (and Jezebel fav) Kelly Lee Owens announced her upcoming third album, LP.8, out next month. Its press release states that when Owens notified her label she had completed the set, she told them she “had created something of an outlier, her ‘eighth album.’” Third album/eighth album, tomato/tomahto. I get it though—the two preview tracks suggest a radical departure from the banging techno that Owens usually trades in, a rapid evolution into something a bit twistier and more difficult. It’s as though her sound has leapt through time. Alongside collaborator Lasse Marhaug, known for his noise work, Owens envisioned LP.8 as somewhere in between Throbbing Gristle and Enya, which is kind of like saying, “I live somewhere between the North and South Poles.” In effect, “Sonic 8” is hypnotically squelchy like TG, with a clanking groove that suggests a machine with bronchitis, while the other preview track “Olga” dons an Enya-like serenity. Having both influences on one track could make it short circuit—I can’t wait to see if she tries it. —RJ

I guess: Sofi Tukker, “Kakee” – Sofi Tukker’s admiration of Brazilian music, guitar, and Portuguese is on full display here, as the duo starts dropping singles ahead of their upcoming album Wet Tennis. “Kakee” is fine, not a standout in their discography, but still fun as hell. Add this to your getting ready montage. —EL

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