Harry Styles: ‘Fine Line’


Tim Walker

The album cover portrays Styles’ through a fisheye lens. The pointing of the hands draws attention towards the fine line between masculinity and femininity represented by the pink and blue colors.

We all know Harry Styles from the English pop band that defined the 2010’s: One Direction. Most of us have heard some of his greatest hits as a solo artist, like “Watermelon Sugar,” which won Best Pop Solo Performance at the Grammys, or the happy jam “Golden.” Some of us know him from his acting roles in movies like Dunkirk. Unfortunately, many have not listened to some of Harry’s hidden gems from his past two records, especially from his latest album, Fine Line. In this project released in 2019, Styles presents sensitive, heartfelt themes with a mix of various influences and styles, making this album truly outstanding and memorable.

Fine Line presents a fluidity in genre never seen before by Styles. In his first album, a self-titled classic rock debut, songs were mainly similar. But in Fine Line, not one song sounds too similar to the next. Although described primarily as a pop-rock album, every track will continue to surprise. For instance, hit-single “Adore Youis indeed a pop song. Nevertheless, Styles does not fail to add his authenticity into what genres mean by exploring pop without the typical modern-pop sound. In comparison, his former One Direction band members usually sound like. Examples of these include songs like “Lights Up and “Golden,” which are not what you would first think would be playing on the radio in 2020, the year that these songs hit the charts. “Golden also serves as the perfect transition from the first record, presenting an audacious version of the UK artist who is not afraid to explore genres. Additionally, the album has songs like “She,” one of the most memorable on “Fine Line” because it is the perfect mix between’80s and modern rock. There are acoustic, slow-burning ballads like “To Be So Lonely and “Falling, and 70’s musical-theatre-inspired anthems such as “Treat People With Kindness.” Fine Line will definitely have a song to fit your musical taste, regardless of your specific preferences, due to Styles’ exploration and boldness.

Styles creates an all-around melancholic album that any listener can relate to, from the so-called honeymoon stages to the loneliness and pain that follows a breakup. “Sunflower Vol.6depicts the intrigue and rush when getting to know someone, with lyrics like “my eyes want you more than a melody.” “Lights Up reflects a confident portrait of who Styles is becoming, not only through loving someone else but by his self-worth and discovery: “Lights up and they know who you are, do you know who you are?” And then, listening to “Cherry feels like a reminder that one of the most successful artists in this era can be as vulnerable as any. The rawness in the song is mainly defined by the voice note of his ex-girlfriend playing at the end of the song, which along with the tenderness in his voice, makes “Cherryone of the top three songs in the album. The use of voice notes in songs typically is seen in Hip-Hop tracks, like in Drake’s “Marvin’s Room.” But the fact that Styles included it adds a personal touch never witnessed from him before. The general theme of the sophomore project revolves around the title track “Fine Line,” which some argue is boring and repetitive for a six-minute. However, the beauty comes from the meaning it holds: trying to find the fine line between being content and striving for more, between happiness and sadness. And despite all of the heartache Styles has been through, he presents the audience with the hopeful promise that “We’ll be alright,” making this song a fan favorite. The modern pop industry lacks artists that engage in producing songs with deep-felt meanings. However, Styles excels at writing meaningful lyrics in Fine Line.

Styles’ influences in production must be mentioned to complement the beautiful meaning behind the tracks in the album. From the different musical stances Styles partakes in, artists like Queen, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Bon Iver, and more shape the sound and tone without clashing with who Styles has become as a single artist. He manages to avoid sounding like a tribute to the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, and it is evident that he has grown into a genuine, extraordinary talent. Some songs have instrumental moments to dance or cry to, like “Fine Line,” the well-known “She” and “Adore You” guitar solos, and the drums that flawlessly pronounce the intensity of both Styles’ vocals and songs. The layering of Styles’ melodies and harmonies simply make sense, showcasing his powerful vocal range that is hard not to love.

Fine Line encompasses an inspiring, confident notion of who Styles is: his own world, lyrics, and perspectives. From celebrating freedom to sorrow, love to heartache, pop to rock, the album does not fail to amuse and should be part of every music lover’s playlist.