By Sydney Sanders and Molly Hulligan | Op-Eds Editor and Staff Writer
It was like taking a deep breath of fresh air that you didn’t know you needed. The voice was familiar, yet somehow wiser. The music, however, was new and illuminating. Boy band who? Fine Line by Harry Styles is, in a word, exquisite.
The album, released on Dec. 13, 2019, has 12 tracks ranging from rock to indie. The album has undertones of funk, folk and psychedelic pop, lending itself to a variety of audiences and emotions. Fine Line is Styles’ second solo album and continues to drift further and further away from his boy band days of One Direction. Instead, it serves as a reflection of not only Styles’s individual personality and music style, but also as an ode to his favorite musicians such as David Bowie, Van Morrison and Harry Nilsson.
Influenced primarily by his break up with ex-girlfriend Camille Rowe, Styles takes listeners on an honest and painful journey of recovery. Styles has been very open about his struggles with heartbreak, going so far as to end the track “Cherry” with a voice recording of Rowe from their time together.
Styles’s relationship and breakup with Rowe allows the album to feel like a confession. Every song on the album is raw and honest. It explores Styles’s trials and tribulations of love, sex, sexuality and sadness. It’s evident throughout the entirety of the album that Styles was feeling some of the highest and lowest moments of his life. To call his ability to convey all of these emotions in every song through both his voice and the lyrics impressive would be an understatement.
Track number five, “Falling,” crescendoes at the point of questioning who he has become and the internal struggle of needing to be needed, a powerful yet relatable thought that Styles shares with the world. The ballad is just one of many examples of the vulnerability expressed throughout Fine Line. It’s truly something to be cherished and praised, especially in our increasingly disconnected world.
However, the exploration of Styles’s relationship is not all negative, per se. Tracks such as “Golden,” “Watermelon Sugar” and “Sunflower, Vol. 6” portray the happier, lighthearted sides of Styles’s relationship. With a combination of pop, soft rock and psychedelic experimentation, the upbeat and playful tones of these songs show just how high Styles felt the highs of his relationship. The carefree nature of the songs make for perfect tracks to listen to on sunny days or when in an sing-song mood.
The most notable and eccentric song on the album, however, is “Fine Line.” The six-minute ballad at first listen has a Bon Iver folk flare but evolves into a soft rock and moving ballad. Styles said in an interview with Rolling Stone, “it just took shape as this thing where I thought, ‘That’s just like the music I want to make.’”
“Fine Line” epitomizes the combination of inspirations and experimentations that the album explores. The song, and the album, ends on the line, “We’ll be alright,” a perfect ending and image of comfort and positivity that encompasses both what the album and what Styles embodies.
The thought-provoking sentiments and the intricate details put into Styles’s album are undeniable. Styles has the ability to evoke emotions through each and every one of his songs. Whether the emotions are raw and unsettling or inspiring and uplifting, the album will make you feel something, and that’s worth celebrating.