Fine Line: A fine listen

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Photo Courtesy of Addie Lilley

"Fine Line," released in 2019, is the second studio album from the Harry Styles, a past member of the band One Direction. The album covers a sweeping range of topics close to Styles's heart, including kindness, acceptance, love, and heartbreak.

Carey Beth Wooley, Dispatch Reporter

Ever since his debut on the X-Factor in 2010, Harry Styles has held the world’s focus. After One Direction started their hiatus, all the boys went their separate ways and began to release their own solo music. Harry Edward Styles started recording his self titled album in 2016 which he released in 2017. After he ended his world tour for HS1, Styles was not seen in any interviews and he did not release any music for about a year. 

Finally, in October of 2019, the singer released the single “Lights Up” which is a song about self-acceptance and self-love. The song shocked fans as it was quite a surprise, and it was very different from anything the English singer had made. “Lights Up” is one of the more upbeat songs off of the album Fine Line, and it does not disappoint. Styles’s first single off of the new album is packed with uplifting vocals and an unique and dazzling music video. “Lights Up” – and the album as a whole – reveals how he has struggled with self-acceptance and expresses that he is finally ok with the person he has become.

Styles then released his second single, “Watermelon Sugar”. This song is also very upbeat but has a totally different vibe. One of the first times fans heard the song was on Saturday Night Live (SNL). I remember sitting on the couch and hearing the first few words, and instantly falling in love with the song. Its entrancing harmonies and instrumental parts are both beautiful live and in the studio version. In interviews Styles has revealed that the song is about the early stages of a relationship and that infatuation you have with that person. From listening to the song, the vocals express how love can make you feel.

A few days before the full album was released, the song “Adore You” and an accompanying music video came out. Weeks before “Adore You” hit the charts the singer stumped fans with the idea of an island named Eroda. There was no information about Eroda and at one point people were convinced it was a cult. On Dec. 6 the mystery of Eroda was solved when the music video revealed that this mysterious place was the fictional island where the story from the video takes place. The video follows a young boy who is different from everybody he knows and is teased for his uniqueness. The boy finds similarities with a fish who becomes his friend and their journey is documented in the video. At first the concept sounds quite strange, but it was executed perfectly and portrayed messages of acceptance and kindness. A few days later, the song was already taking over the radio and jumping higher and higher on the charts. 

Finally the full album, Fine Line, was released on Dec. 13. The first song, “Golden”, is upbeat and makes you feel like you are driving down the coast of Malibu. While the vibe is happy, the lyrics reveal uncertainty and deep-rooted sadness. The lyrics juxtapose the beat and the instrumental parts of the song adding even more flavor to the overall album. The song as a whole is an ideal opener for an album of this magnitude. 

After the three songs that were already released, you hear “Cherry”. This is a much slower song than the rest of the album and it depicts someone being hurt after a breakup and secretly missing the person who broke their heart. The song deals with a personal breakup Styles has gone through with his ex-girlfriend Camille Rowe. You can hear her voice in a recording at the end of the song which continues to add to the emotion experienced when you listen to it. You can hear the pain in lyrics like “Don’t you call him what you used to call me” and “I just miss your accent and your friends”.

The next song is “Falling,” which breaks your heart. A music video was released to go with it which does not make the song any easier to listen to. The song starts off with solo piano and then Styles’s voice enters and you can hear the pure sadness and uncertainty. “Falling”, like “Cherry” deals with heartbreak but with more self blame. The song asks questions like “What if I’m someone I don’t want around?” and “What am I now?” The song leaves you with a feeling that the lyrics come from personal experience and reveals all the feelings of heartbreak that someone would feel naturally. 

The next song is a direct response to “Falling” and is called “To Be So Lonely”. This song, again, deals with heartbreak, but it describes a manipulative relationship where it’s still hard but necessary to leave. It has elements of self blame, but it’s more directed towards the other person. At first listen, the song sounds happier than the others but after the first few bars, you again are met with the strong emotion of heartbreak. 

The next four songs are more upbeat but just as lovely as the rest of the album. “She” is next which consists of dazzling lyrics which tells a story of a fantasy that is all in someone’s head. The whole song builds up to the remarkable guitar solo played by Mitch Rowland, who is a member of Styles’s band. The song’s lyrics are very cryptic which leads fans to believe that it describes a man feeling self conscious about expressing his feminine side and not wanting to show that to the public. Lyrics like “A woman who’s just in his head” and “While he plays pretend, So pretend” instill the idea that this song is about finding the fine line between femininity and masculinity.

 The next two songs are again upbeat and danceable, but they also give you a hippie, beach vibe. “Sunflower Volume 6” and “Canyon Moon” highlight the final stages of getting over a break-up and reminiscing on older memories. Throughout the lyrics you can hear Styles saying he wants to return to that distant memory that felt like home. “Canyon Moon” is one of my favorites of the album because of its message but also the feeling of joy it leaves you with.

One of the happiest songs off of Fine Line is “Treat People With Kindness” which is often abbreviated to TPWK. Styles has said that his entire message is being kind to everyone no matter who they are, which is perfectly highlighted by this song. You can find these words on most of his merchandise and he repeats this at his shows. The song sounds kind of like something you would listen to in kindergarten which gives it a sense of nostalgia. 

The final song is titled “Fine Line,” and you are reminded of the slower ballads you hear before. The song itself summarizes the happier and sadder parts of the album and ends with the words “We’ll be alright”. This song leaves you satisfied and it reminds you of every track you just heard. 

The album goes through almost every emotion you can possibly think of and leaves you wanting more. Styles created a masterpiece that was even more surprising and experimental than his first album. This is one of my favorite albums and there are absolutely no changes that should be made to it. Fine Line is absolutely perfect.