Harry Styles soars to new heights with ‘Fine Line’.

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Columbia Records, Erskine Records

The cover of Harry Styles’ second studio album, ‘Fine Line’.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

English singer-songwriter and actor Harry Styles has had an incredible evolution since his initial debut in September 2011 as a member of English-Irish boy band One Direction, who released five albums between November 2011 and November 2015 before going on hiatus in January 2016.

During the break, each member embarked on a solo career, with Styles being the second to do so after former bandmate Niall Horan’s debut in September 2016, releasing “Sign of the Times” as his debut single in April 2017. Right away, the song was noted for its pure rock quality as opposed to the more pop rock sound of One Direction, and rock would be the predominant genre of his self-titled debut album, which arrived in May of that year.

The album was met with massive commercial success, going #1 in over 80 countries and breaking the record for the biggest debut sales week for a British male musician in the United States with over 230,000 album-equivalent units sold, and Styles furthered his success when he released his second studio album, Fine Line, in early December — selling over 470,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, topping his original record, and making him the first British male musician to debut at #1 with his first two albums in the United States.

Fine Line continues the overall rock sound of Styles’ previous work while taking a more “fun and adventurous” approach by incorporating elements of psychedelic rock, funk, and soul. He also admitted to having used psychedelic drugs during the recording process, committing to his psychedelia influences and emulating the style of classic English progressive rock bands, such as Pink Floyd and The Beatles.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Styles stated that Fine Line is “all about having sex and being sad” and features the “toughest, most soulful songs he’s [ever] written”.

The opening track, “Golden”, describes the highs and fears that one has during the honeymoon phase of a new relationship — a narrative that’s further explored on tracks like the lead promotional single, “Watermelon Sugar”, and the second single, “Adore You” — setting the tone of the record before moving into the major theme of heartbreak.

Addressing his break-up with French-American model Camille Rowe in July 2018, “Cherry” is a representation of Styles’ emotional state in the aftermath of the relationship as he watches his former lover go out with new people, and “Falling” is a tragic ballad that sees him struggling to move on as he belts out the powerful chorus.

He also discusses freedom and self-reflection on the lead single, “Lights Up”, which was likely inspired by his newfound autonomy following his departure from Syco Records during One Direction’s hiatus. Syco held tight control over the members’ careers and public image during their time as a group, and as a solo act, Styles has been much more open about himself, his political views, and his sexuality — as referenced in the song’s music video — and is now able to express himself freely through his music.

All of these themes come together on the beautifully arranged title track, which touches on Styles’ need for balance during the ups and downs of life and closes the album on an empowering note with an absolutely incredible orchestral outro.

Harry Styles has reinvented himself and his artistry, blowing us all away with this incredible body of work that is available now across all online and streaming platforms.

Stream Fine Line on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7xV2TzoaVc0ycW7fwBwAml?si=TLar7NQMSrmAPQn5hnmOEg 

Watch the music video for “Lights Up”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NZvM1918_E 

Styles in the music video for “Lights Up”.

This article was originally published in December 2019 and later revised in May 2020.