I have to admit that I used to run a One Direction fan account. I loved them, and they grew with me through my adolescent years; I genuinely appreciated them as a band. But, nothing from their era could ever compare to Harry Styles’ solo career—after all, he was always my favorite. Apparently I’m not the only one, since Styles’ following has stayed strong after the One Direction days, which cannot be said for the rest of his bandmates.
After releasing his self-titled debut solo album in 2017, Styles took it easier than he had in his One Direction days and kept things pretty lowkey. That being said, he has dropped back in full force with his newest album, Fine Line, which was released on Dec. 13.
Strap in, because this album is a wild ride of bangers, emotional sad-boy songs, and sounds that can only be compared to actual sunshine.
Flow worth following
One of my least favorite things about listening to new music is when I feel like I have to put a lot of effort into getting through the album and hearing every song. For example, I love Billie Eilish, but it took me a while to get through her newest album, When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? This is not to say that it was a bad album, but I had to put in effort to get through it, even though she is one of my favorite artists. With Fine Line, that’s not the case. It flows seamlessly from song to song and the shift in tone carries listeners like a float on a lazy river; all you have to do is sit back and relax.
The album starts off with “Golden,” which is the perfect upbeat opener. It fades in with some light cymbals and then really throws you in for an instantly-enjoyable banger. After a few more upbeat songs like “Watermelon Sugar” and “Adore You,” it fades a little to the first single from this era, “Lights Up,” which is a little softer. The beautiful little sad spiral continues on with “Cherry,” “Falling,” and “To Be So Lonely,” which are soft, melancholy songs with vocals and instrumentals fit only for Heaven.
The pace does pick up a little heavily in “Treat People With Kindness,” but that can be excused since that is the ultimate happy, joyful, good-day song that everyone needs after crying to “Falling” for three hours.
Overall, the flow and beautiful instrumentals work in favor of the album. It all sounds really cohesive without sounding too similar or boring.
Room to flourish
Ever since Styles became a solo artist, it has been incredible to watch him flourish creatively. The sounds in Fine Line are far funkier than what anyone ever could have ever expected from One Direction.
The vulnerability in the lyrics paired with the funky beats in songs like “To Be So Lonely” and “Sunflower Vol. 6” are truly so unique that I could not have seen them coming, even through a telescope. “She” is also a funky, sultry whirlwind that stole my heart from the first note.
The whole album feels far more vulnerable. Rather than just having thrown-together, bubblegum-pop love songs that are easily marketed, Styles has pulled through with some of the most raw lyrics and unique beats. Listening, I almost felt like this was the story of a close friend’s heartbreak and not that of a superstar multimillionaire who is thousands of miles away. This is particularly true with “Falling,” “Cherry,” and “Fine Line.” Overall, Styles’ sound has evolved to fit him like a glove, which makes the listen even easier.
Feels like sunshine
Even though some of these songs are deeply emotional, there are still plenty of tracks to balance that out and make the album feel happy overall.
“Treat People With Kindness,” while jarring, can only really be described as 2019’s version of “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves. It feels like I could march down a sunny street listening to it in the middle of June, or frolic through a field of sunflowers with it playing in the background.
“Canyon Moon” was also really upbeat and brought an almost folkish sound that I was not expecting, but loved nonetheless. It sounds like if nostalgia were a sound.
The final single of this era, “Adore You,” also feels upbeat and happy and was paired with an adorable music video that also set off Styles’ creativity. It is really about just wanting to unconditionally adore someone, which is a very cute and joyful concept.
Overall, this album delivered everything I wanted and more. I got some upbeat happy music, something to hurt my feelings, and some sultry, funky bangers. I am in awe of Styles’ creativity and continuous development of his sound. To me, Fine Line is mind-blowing, front to back, with the exception of the jarring start to “TPWK,” and the large chunk of the album that is taken up by singles.
Sunflower Vol. 6
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Featured Image: The Independent
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