Written during his final year at Bristol University in England, Harry Strange's latest work Something, Hold On captures love and growing up queer as Strange pushes to find meaning within a time of constant volatility.
It's minimalist. Often easily dissectible into its individual elements if you're listening close enough. Like Harry Strange's lyrics, the music hides nothing. There's a sense of purity and rawness in his production, something that the artist creates himself. By building this record up from a few dominant elements, mostly synth and vocal, Strange creates an electronic pop work that upholds a sense of realism that most artists try (and fail) to do.
Beginning with the track "Four in the Morning," Strange opens with his most addictive track on the record. The lyrics begin pointedly: "don't look that way at me," he begs. Harry Strange makes it impossible to avoid his pleas, supporting his words with nothing but simple chords. As he continues, the track organically builds to its climax. "I try to find something / but maybe there's nothing." His greatest strength, Strange's lyrics could all be plainly spoken in conversation, but through his careful choosing, he transforms them into something that feels much more novel.
Another notable moment on the project, "It Will Be Alright - Demo," has a jarring introduction, led by a jagged sawtooth chord. Unlike the previous "Four in the Morning," "It Will Be Alright - Demo" is an optimistic moment within the record. The track feels like a honeymoon stage - sweet, adoring, oblivious. In this moment, Strange celebrates a new love. The track is light, even buoyant as Strange asserts that everything will be alright. He's so convincing that you almost believe him.
By the fourth track "Turn Away," it appears that what goes up must come back down. Harry Strange begins, "This was never just a friendship / friends don't ever touch your heart." While it remains unclear if this project is a chronological narrative of a singular relationship, it is hard to ignore the juxtaposition between the sweetness of "It Will Be Alright - Demo" and the despair of "Turn Away." The only song to lack warm, layered vocal harmonies, "Turn Away's" vocoded melody feels aesthetically as cold and isolated as Strange tells. He is at his most vulnerable, and it, at times, is so personal that it feels wrong to be listening. But that's actually all Harry Strange is asking for: to be listened to.
By the project's end, Harry Strange moves away from his heavy use of the synthesizer in favor of a warmer, more natural piano to anchor the final track "Unknown but Somehow You'll Find Your Own Space." The last song feels like the end of a coming-of-age film - not everything is perfect, but you know that the main character will be alright anyway. With Harry Strange's Something, Hold On, he masters the art of the queer love story and comes to terms with his own experiences as he prepares for his college graduation. According to Strange, "I found a freedom with this EP… These five songs truly represent me and the music I love to create."