Fine Line — Harry Styles
In his self-titled debut Harry had a lot to prove in order to distance himself from his fellow and One Direction members. Bringing together elements of 70’s rock and 60’s folk Harry did a remarkable job at solidifying his position in pop music. After he summitted that mountain the next hill came in the form of a sophomore album. Could he repeat the success? In search of the “fine line” between love for others and love for self, Harry is growing into the artist he was destined to be
Like its predecessor Fine Line is a heartbreak record. He’s trying to get over it (but failing) and he’s talking through. These sentiments are most intimately felt on the romantic cut ‘Cherry’ where he cues about the heartbreak he’s experiencing through a breathy dream pop instrumental. While it’s clear that the women in question is French by the skit at the end of cherry he refers to her as simply she in the flashy rock pop jam ‘She’. Whether or not he’s a mega star with millions of adoring fans he still goes through relationship woes like the rest of us. It’s endearing to hear him in such a vulnerable state.
On the front half of the album there is a strong pop centric vibe pulsating through the tracks. With ‘Watermelon Sugar’ Harry produces an infectious dance tune with a ferocious guitar that rips and roars across the energized beat. In the song ‘Lights Up’ Harry shows off his ability to make a choir-infused pop smash ergo George Michael. On the second half of the album he decides to dial things back and resort to the slow burners that populated his debut album. Throughout it all Harry is showing incredible versatility and true staying power as a top billing talent that can do a lot.
In the same vain as the previous point, Harry sounds natural amongst a variety of sounds. The rock-pop direction he took on ‘She’ may be his most ambitious yet, and arguably the one he can take the furthest. Contrastingly, on ‘Sunflower, Vol. 6’ he brings in colorful imagery and adds unexpected charm to a mostly forlorn album. If the bandmember turned solo star is going to continue this upward trajectory then he should continue to find innovative ways to showcase his breadth of talent. Until then, it’s a good time to enjoy the fine line.