Cut Through the Noise: Harry Styles, WILLOW, Maggie Rogers


Illustration by Isaac Wert

Modesty Manion

Welcome to “Cut Through the Noise,” an entertainment column from the St. Louis Park Echo covering new music releases. Every week, a different Echo staffer takes on the role of writer, reviewing recent single releases from a variety of artists.


Harry Styles – ‘As It Was’ ★★★★★

Fair use from Columbia Records

Since the release of his debut self-titled album, Harry Styles has proven himself a musical genius. His new song, “As It Was” upholds this reputation. Styles’ last release in 2019, “Fine Line,” left a lasting impact on the music industry, but there’s been radio silence since then. The release of the first single in Harry’s new album, “Harry’s House,” has many people excited. Paired with an accompanying music video, “As It Was” creates a beautiful illustration of personal hardship and growth. The song itself touches on dealing with change within one’s relationships and throughout one’s life. Some theorize that the song is about the divorce of Styles’ parents and his closeness with his sister, Gemma Styles. The chorus specifically represents these ideas, with the line, “In this world, it’s just us, you know it’s not the same as it was,” with ‘us’ presumably being the two siblings. Styles also mentions having issues with communication, a theme he’s scattered throughout his debut and sophomore albums. 

The song itself has a beautiful mixture of fast-paced percussion, new wave style synthesizer and christmas bells towards the end. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the song is the jingle melody, making “As It Was” reminiscent of Aha’s “Take On Me.” These features in particular make the track sound like an ‘80s new wave song. For such a difficult topic the lyrics talk about, the song is surprisingly upbeat. Harry’s new music has been highly anticipated for the past two years, and he has not disappointed with this single. Harry Styles’ new album, “Harry’s House,” comes out May 20.


WILLOW featuring Siiickbrain – ‘PURGE’ ★★★★☆

Fair use from ROC Nation Records

The lyrics “I like to ignore all the pain, I can’t take it, the darkness it melts away” sum up the theme of WILLOW’s new single, “PURGE,” featuring Siiickbrain. 

Similar to the sound of WILLOW’s most recent album, “PURGE” combines a pop punk melody with depressing writing to create a whirlwind of angst and anger. The song deals with the idea of existence, struggling to find one’s true identity and feeling consumed by depression, with motifs of nihilism and cynicism. Upon solely reading the lyrics, I thought some of the lines toed the line between intense and cringey. However, after listening to WILLOW’s utilization of the lyrics and the accompanying music, my opinion completely changed. The way that WILLOW screams her lyrics and blasts heavy guitar proves the validity of the song. “PURGE” begins with WILLOW singing slowly with heavy metal sounding guitar. 


Once the chorus starts, the melody takes a turn to sound like a classic WILLOW anthem, with a combination of hardcore drums and guitar with a background electronic beats. Her powerful vocals turn into emotional scream-singing with an extreme feeling
of fury. In fact, the bridge starts with WILLOW just screaming with no rhyme or reason. Although the accompaniment of Siiickbrain with WILLOW sounds good in “PURGE,” the pairing wasn’t totally necessary. Siiiickbrain’s vocals didn’t contribute much to the general sound of the song, and, even though the artists collaborated on the writing, WILLOW would’ve been fully capable of writing the song on her own. Overall, “PURGE” is a moving mixture of emo, pop punk and screamo that previous fans of WILLOW and those who like the earlier work of the band Paramore will appreciate.


Maggie Rogers – ‘That’s Where I Am’ ★★★★★

Fair use from Capitol Records

The first single off Maggie Rogers’ upcoming sophomore album, “That’s Where I Am” is an interesting yet euphonic indie rock song. Rogers’ use of unique editing and mixing styles sounds very similar to that she used in her debut. Adding these effects to the modern indie melody of the song is what makes this single stand out. In “That’s Where I Am,” Rogers sings about losing the love of your life but still feeling connected to them, and not recognizing your past self. Lines like “I’ll never find another, no one else can do it better,” and “You’re the only one I ever wanted,” emphasize the feeling of being consumed by love for a person and having their presence follow you through life long after they’ve gone.

In the past, Maggie has mainly written about love and self discovery, so a song touching on both topics is completely on brand for her. The song ends with an instrumental of guitar riff, leaving listeners on a hopeful note. This intertwining of melodic guitar, audio repetition and Rogers’ truly moving vocals creates an unforgettable work of art. Maggie Rogers started teasing “That’s Where I Am” on TikTok in early February of this year, so I and many of her fans patiently awaited its release. I look forward to listening to her new album, “Surrender,” out July 9.