Harry Styles’ new single and video, “As It Was” trades classic rock for synth-pop

Harry Styles has used his solo career to lean into the music of bygone decades before, with his first two albums heavily drenched in the rock singer-songwriter stylings of the ’70s. 

According to Variety, his new single, too, has a flair for music as it was — but it’s far from a rerun of those previous albums.

Released late Thursday, “As It Was”, the outlet says, sounds like it has its roots in the synth-pop of the 1980s.

“You could even say he’s vaguely in a Depeche mode… or having an A-ha moment,” it adds.

Then there is the “As It Was” music video and its generous offerings of Styles’ torso, in a tank top and eventually without it.

Styles indulges in the great pop tradition of calling himself out by name in the lyrics, singing in the second verse, “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?” Earlier, the track begins with a child’s voice imploring, “C’mon Harry, we want to say goodnight to you!” The lyrics are distinctly less cheerful than the music throughout, with calls that go unconnected and doorbells going unanswered. It’s like a quarantine-era mood squeezed into a post-pandemic synth banger.

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