Finally arriving with his sophomore album Fine Line, Harry Styles carries forward his talent to effortlessly pull listeners into his music, albeit with a very different sound from his One Direction-days.
Two and a half years on from eponymous solo debut, this 12-track production is a satisfying mix-match of metro-rock soundscapes some of which predate Harry’s generation while some others showcase his groovy contemporary influences in its full glory.
With opening track ‘Golden’, a dreamy ode to a warm relationship that comes to an inevitable end, and the risqué, bluesy’ ‘Watermelon Sugar’, Harry makes an unsurprising good impression; re-awakening the rusty “Directioner” in me, and reminding me why I’ve always loved his vocal abilities, and him – only this time it’s a 100 times better both lyrically and sonically.
Next comes the much-talked-about ‘Adore You’, a danceable, easy-going track with a polarising, half-fable music video narrated by breakout Spanish singer Rosalía. Following track, ‘Lights Up’- the only other track from the album besides the former to have a music video so far – is a soulful electro-choral offering, that merges the likeness of the 60s and 70s music the superstar seems so fond of, with edgier pop-rock splashes.
The slow ballad sonics of ‘Falling’ may not be particularly memorable – and may not be the one that on anyone’s frequently played songs list – but when Harry hits the higher octaves in this emotionally charged track, it’s goose-bump inducing yet serene and for that reason, it’s a personal favourite.
Effortlessly flitting between emotive and playful between songs, Harry goes from crooning on ‘Falling’ to the jazz/acoustic track ‘To Be So Lonely’, which plays the fine line – pun completely intended- between openly flirting with a love interest while simultaneously playing hard-to-get.
The most interesting part of Fine Line – aside from the lyrical and thematic creativity- is the 25-year-old singer’s ability to segue from a ‘Sign of The Times’-esque slow jam ‘She’ to a happy, acoustic-based ‘Canyon Moon’ before switching to the catchy, guitar-heavy ‘Sunflower, Vol 6’ which brings to mind an image of sunny gardens and smiling people.
Penultimate track ‘Treat People With Kindness’, which opens a gospel chorus is the pinnacle of Styles’ second album. Light-hearted in tone, and warm-hearted in its efforts to bring everyone together; it’s a much-needed dose of positivity and an encouragement towards togetherness in a world that’s quickly turning upside down with hatred.
Closing with title song ‘Fine Line’, comes a haunting, slow-burning end to the album, as the instrumentals take a backseat letting Harry Styles and soulful, enticing vocals shine- making for a near-perfect end.
Styles’ proved with his previous release, that he’s undoubtedly here to stay beyond being in any beloved boy-band – not that anyone really questioned that – but with Fine Line, he establishes the wide range of audiences he can reach with his music.
Each track on the album- even where some like surface-level happy tracks like ‘Watermelon Sugar’ and ‘Canyon Moon’ pale in comparison to the genuine joy-inducing stylings of ‘Treat People With Kindness’- is sure to resonate with at least one section of music-lovers – whether that’s the teenagers, the parents of those teens, or a sub-section of human beings somewhere in-between.
With all the hype surrounding the release of the album, it wouldn’t have been surprising if it turned out as a bit of a let-down. But on the contrary, with Fine Line Harry proves that his detour from the biggest boyband in the world has only steered him onto a path to becoming one the biggest artists in the world, period.
Harry Style’s sophomore album Fine Line is now available to stream and purchase via Columbia Records. Harry Styles will play a special one-off London show on December 19th at a yet to be announced location. For tickets head to the official Harry Styles store to purchase any version of the album before December 17th.