Harry Styles – “Fine Line” Album Review

Story posted December 19, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Jade Campos

After spending the past decade in the spotlight as a member of one of the most popular boy bands in music history, Harry Styles is finally finding his true identity. Styles’ sophomore album, “Fine Line,” is the zenith of individual character, self love and practically finding the truth to life.

With the release of “Fine Line,” Styles will never be called a “former member of One Direction.” He is Harry Styles, and his music will live forever in history.

Fans have been anticipating the release of “Fine Line” since the lead single, “Lights Up,” was released in October. Although one of the weakest songs out of the tracklist, “Lights Up” was a window into Styles’ soul as he enters into a new part in his life. There’s no question that the singer has truly discovered himself since the release of his debut album in 2017. One Direction is something of the past. Now, Styles epitomizes everything that is glamour rock and painted nails.

“Golden” is an incredibly strong opening track, full of truth and vulnerability though masked with upbeat, poppy instrumentation. Yet, it’s a step forward for the artist who admitted he didn’t open himself up enough in the past. Styles admits to a cruel world of heartbreak, but remains optimistic nonetheless about love. This theme carries him throughout the album. Every song is tinted with some sort of sadness and loss, yet there’s still something there that keeps him holding on.

Vulnerability plays a large part in who Styles has become, perhaps because he has finally become comfortable enough with himself to let everything go. While not groundbreaking in the least, it’s still incredible to hear a facet of the singer’s personal life on the song “Cherry” as he includes a conversation with his ex-girlfriend Camille Rowe. It’s not hastily added in, either. The track sounds like it was created around this charming exchange, proving that he’s not afraid to admit to his real feelings.

“Fine Line” offers an incredible range of diversity in terms of sound, though remains cohesive all at once. “Harry Styles” is characterized by its sudden shifts of soft, melancholy sound to sudden aggressive sexual passion. Finally, Styles has discovered the sound that works perfectly for him, which is (not surprisingly) a jaunty yet rugged rock sound from the 1970s (complete with three minute guitar solos).

“Treat People With Kindness,” is a phrase that Styles has been toting since his first tour as an independent artist. It’s a call to action for fans across the world to create goodness in a world full of negativity. It was surprising for most to see that the singer’s iconic line had been turned into a song, and it’s probably the most telling of where he is in his life: incredibly happy with his who he’s become.

There’s not a second that should be ignored on “Fine Line.” Styles reaches emotional intensity in all of the best and worst ways, through all of life’s perplexing moments. “Fine Line” is one of those rare moments in an artist’s career in which they completely recognize who they are as a human being and a creator. Every single piece of this album and new era all play a part in Styles newfound identity — who he is and all of the places he’s been. The album art, the instrumentation, the lyrics and even the singer’s eclectic fashion choices.

Every song is humanizing, which is interestingly juxtaposed with his ever growing status as a rock god in the music industry. He can admit to all of his faults, feelings of insecurity and downfalls. “Fine Line” is laced with juxtapositions and contradictions. He asks “what if I’m someone I don’t want around?” and later insists “I don’t need all the answers/Feelin’ good in my skin.” Yet, it’s all a part of the human experience. There’s never a dull moment.

Surely, Styles’ music may not be completely appreciated by mainstream radio or Billboard lists, though there’s no doubt that he creates content that will live in music history forever. “Harry Styles” was only a starting point for the artist, because “Fine Line” is the truth as to what Styles is capable of.

Rating: 8/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Tracks: “Cherry,” “Sunflower, Vol. 6”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Tracks: “Lights Up”

 

 

Jade Campos is a sophomore majoring in print/digital journalism. To contact her, email jmc7727@psu.edu.