On Friday, December 13th, Harry Styles brought good luck to his fans with the release of his second album, Fine Line. The new album is doing impressively well with sales, as the third best-selling album with a total of 478,000 purchases, launching Styles into the best-selling male pop artist in over four years.
The album-Styles’ first in two years-presents a compilation of pop-based, danceable tunes, complete with a mellow feel. Because both the sounds and messages of the album vary throughout, different songs are likely to resonate with different listeners.
Fine Line generates a uniquely different sound than Styles’ debut album, including more upbeat tracks. Styles reportedly shared that Fine Line centers on one of his past relationships and how it inspired him to discover his true self.
The twelve songs in the album convey a vast range of emotions, strung together with the common theme of human relationships and the emotions involved. The album opens with three upbeat songs in which Styles expresses excitement over a new relationship that brings out the warmth and wonder in his life. The album then transitions into a more classical, acoustic sound, with introspective lyrics reflecting on Styles’ past relationships. Afterward, the tone returns to positive memories and relationship possibilities, and even seeks to spread a message of compassion in “Treat People With Kindness.”
“Golden” kickstarts the album with a dance-worthy tune, both light and upbeat in texture, which Styles deems the perfect song for a highway drive. The lyrics, although simple and repetitive, capture the emotional journey of entering a new relationship-with the excitement and insecurities that ensue.
Styles follows with a slower, yet equally energetic song, titled “Watermelon Sugar”. In “Adore You”-arguably the album’s strongest track-Styles’ melodic vocals soar over the synthesized instrumentals and driving beat. Whereas “Watermelon Sugar” focuses on the adrenaline that comes from sensory experiences and close contact in a relationship, “Adore You” centers on the concept of lovers without commitments to each other. “Adore You” stands out as the most catchy and recognizable tune from the radio, and listeners may find themselves singing throughout the day.
In his next track, “Lights Up”, Styles uses a unique synthesizer effect on his voice, weaving the lyrics around his path of self-discovery. Within the next few songs, after exploring darker emotions and the mistakes made in past relationships, Styles returns to a contemporary feel with “Sunflower,” which evokes a relaxing, positive aura. Styles speaks of a woman that he would like to know better before his memory of her fades.
Just before the album seems to become repetitive in tone and instrumentals, Style’s fifth track, “Cherry”,’ adds a unique layer to Styles’ collection. It deviates from the synthesizer-based sound of the first songs with its somber tone and acoustic guitar. As Styles wistfully reminisces about his former relationship, he incorporates a voicemail message from an ex-girlfriend, adding a raw and personal depth. Styles continues to experiment with unique sounds with “Falling”, distinct with its touching, dramatic vocals, and lyrics centered on Style’s quest to discover himself. The instrumentation is simple and elegant, with an acoustic piano.
The album shifts between different sounds to convey the songs’ meanings throughout. In his song “She”, Styles reflects about a woman that he often daydreams about, but does not know. Unlike the earlier songs in the album, “She” focuses on Styles’ imaginings. Because the song is entirely about abstract, personal thoughts, it has an introspective, edgy tone, akin to a classic rock ballad from the ’70s. “Canyon Moon,” which conjures images of a western landscape, distinguishes itself from the other songs through its acoustic guitar features and a folk sound also reminiscent of the early ’70s. Once again, the musical nuances bring the message to life, featuring beautiful harmonies in the vocals.
“To Be So Lonely” was a personal least favorite as nothing particularly stuck out, and was too repetitive musically. However, the tone of the song effectively mirrored the message. The song begins with sparse acoustic instrumentation, conveying Styles’ musings over a past relationship. As he reflects on its downfall, Styles accepts responsibility for his loneliness.
“Treat People With Kindness” presents an anthem to Styles’ positive message. The gospel choir takes the lead during the recurring chorus of the song, embodying an inclusive message. The gospel choir reminds the audience that humanity is unified regardless of race or religious sects, and injects a contagious joy into the listener’s life through its buoyant melody.
The final song, named after the album-“Fine Line”-first touches the album with a soft, ethereal feel and progressively grows into a dramatic, full-synthesized orchestra. The song focuses on a woman with whom Styles has a turbulent relationship. He appreciates certain aspects of their interactions, but overall their connection has faded, missing the mark by a “fine line.”
Throughout the album, Styles takes divergent approaches to his music. Although synthesized beats and instrumentals create the overall tone, acoustic guitar and piano music significantly contribute to the middle of the album, where Styles explores feelings of loneliness and melancholy.
This album may appeal more to those who have witnessed Styles’ transformation, both musical and personal, since his earlier days as a performer in One Direction. Although it may not widen his fan base substantially, it will satisfy those who have grown with him throughout his career. The depth of Styles’ messages enables fans to understand him more intimately as a person, inspiring them in navigating their own lives with reflection and compassion. It still resonates with them into the new year and leaves a lasting impression they will carry forever.