After months of waiting (not so patiently) for this release, it’s finally here! Harry Styles has released his heavily anticipated second album FINE LINE. Now, when I tell you this was my most anticipated release of 2019, I mean it. Harry Styles is one of my many inspirations and idol figures. He embodies everything I aspire to be. He values kindness, respect and inclusion and I think these values get lost sometimes in the music industry, as it gets more and more saturated. He does not involve himself in drama, stays relatively off social media, values his close friends and lives his best and most authentic life. I think everyone can take a few pointers from that, especially going into the new year of 2020 in 2 weeks time! So what better way than to celebrate Harry and this album than to do a full in depth review (exactly like my review of Lover).
FINE LINE has a total of 12 tracks, including singles Lights Up, Watermelon Sugar and Adore You. I was a massive all three these tracks and still am a massive fan. They stood out as phenomenal choices for lead singles, both for radio play and as perfect hype-up tracks for fans as we awaited the album. I know all I could think about was Australian tour dates! Now, this album was extremely exciting for his fans because, not only did we get to see a new side of him and some more mature themes, he specifically said that this album would be all about sex and psychedelics (which if that doesn’t get you excited, you might as well just stop reading), and did he disappoint? No he certainly did not. Nonetheless, I was so excited going into this album and I was overwhelmed with joy after listening to it.
You can tell from the first listen how much more personal this album is to Harry and how much more depth there is hidden within the 12 tracks here, that was not as apparent on his self titled album. Fine Line is filled with sex, love and psychedelics as promised and each song provides something different, both musically and lyrically. It is a roller coaster of emotions, but an enjoyable one! It can make you laugh, cry, smile and dance consecutively. I may be a bit bias… ok maybe a lot bias – but the fact that this album is a brilliant work of art is definitely not a feeling I am alone on. The critic reviews are great and the fan reviews and even better. I have had multiple people tell me that they weren’t fans of his but love his new album! Proving that no matter who you are, where you come from, there is an aspect of relatability or just enjoyment that can come from this album. Thank you to Mr Harry Styles for allowing us a deeper and more personal look into your crazy life. We appreciate it!
1. Golden – 5/5
What an opening song! The very first song you hear on the album leaves an incredible impression on you, as to how the rest of the album is going to go! This was one of the tracks Harry confirmed was a favourite of his, and you can definitely see that. It is a vibrant splash of colour on an already very bright album. It elevates and transforms the mood from the very first seconds. This song was made for Summer, and lucky for me, Australia is in Summer as we type and will be again when Harry tours Australia in 2020.
From what I have gathered after multiple listens, this song symbolises infatuation with someone, but also the realisation that love does not always work out and sometimes it is just a fling. The contrast between the upbeat sounds in the song and the melancholy lyrics may also act to reflect this. He says;
“You’re so golden, I don’t want to be alone”
This line to me, indicates straight away a sense of infatuation and awe that accompanies witnessing beauty. It describes the feeling of attachment to that beauty upon first glance and the way we can obsess over it… in Harry’s case, enough to write a song!
2. Watermelon Sugar – 3.5/5
The second single released and very abruptly as it got released as soon as Harry’s double duty on SNL aired. The first thing you notice about Watermelon sugar is the summer vibe it radiates from the beginning. The warm summer energy in the song is accompanied by some really strong vocals on Harry’s part, which come through in the chorus and bridge particularly. The fruit imagery only adds to my next point which is the sensual and sexual nature of this song. Do not let the innocent imagery fool you into thinking that this song is innocent. Harry has mentioned the sense of “taste” when referring to people in his songs countless times now and this song is no exception with lyrics such as;
“I just wanna taste it, I just wanna taste it”
“Tastes like strawberries on a summer evenin”
Personally, I really loved the song! I think it is the perfect Summer tune to play by the beach or just around the house. It is a feel-good song. Do I prefer it to Lights Up? No, I don’t but I still think it is a great choice for a single!
3. Adore You – 4/5
The Island of Eroda. Adore You was the single that grew on me. Upon first listen to my surprise, it did not blow me away. Something about the song felt generic to me. However, as I connoted to listen, I peeled back the layers of the song to find out I actually loved it. Yes, there are some generic song tropes repeated throughout this song;
“Walk through fire for you / just let me adore you”
Although, weirdly, I think these attributes actually make the song work so well. Adore You isn’t one of the more deep songs on the album but it is one of the best to dance too! It is a stylish pop song with a groovy beat that can’t help but make you smile.
I recommend the music video below for a weird, absurd but somehow uniquely-Harry take on this song…
4. Lights Up – 5/5
One of the best singles to be released in 2019 HANDS DOWN. Now, being the first single of an album comes with it, a pretty big weight of expectation attached to it. I don’t know what we were expecting as fans but I was over the moon with this single! It was not what I expected, it was better! I loved the song and music video! It showed a completely refreshed side of Harry. A side that we haven’t seen since tour. He is happier, more vibrant and more authentic and this song demonstrates that in every aspect. The song is about “freedom” as Harry himself spoke about and about being and accepting yourself for exactly who you are. He sings;
“Shine, step into the light
Shine, so bright sometimes
Shine, I’m not ever going back”
These lyrics blatantly express the theme of this song and demonstrate exactly what Harry was trying to convey through it. It is about moving forward, growing and stepping into your full authentic self and leaving the rest behind. That is freaking empowering, and that is exactly the mood that the song provides! It is a song that you can scream from the top of your lungs and just embrace yourself, your flaws and step into your truest form as an infinite being. A perfect song to align with his personality and his values and the perfect song to reflect his fans! I am obsessed. A+
5. Cherry – 4/5
Cherry is exactly like its name. It is soft, subtle but sad. It is about heartbreak and how people move on from and begin new relationships and the difficulty in seeing someone you loved, with another. The song puts me into a trance for its entire 4 minute and 19-second runtime. It’s blissful and somehow nostalgic with French undertones (evident through the “voicemail” that ends the track from Harry’s ex-girlfriend Camille Rowe. It just adds that final touch to an already stunning song!
This was one of my favourites on my first listen to the album! Something about the European Summer vibes that It gave off just captivated me. There really is something entrancing about this song, especially with the echos in the background at the beginning and end. As if to symbolise the ghost of the past relationship fading into the distance as Harry gains a level of acceptance for the situation. The lyrics of the chorus below demonstrate the theme of the song in summary. It is a fluffy song with a sad message.
“Don’t you call him “baby”
We’re not talking lately
Don’t you call him what you used to call me”
6. Falling – 5/5
Falling is probably my second favourite song off this album! Everything about this song is incredible. This is probably the slowest and most melancholy of the album. With only a piano playing in the background and stellar vocals from Harry himself, it makes for the perfect tearjerker.
The lyrics set the tone;
“What am I now? What am I now?
What if I’m someone I don’t want around?
I’m falling again, I’m falling again, I’m fallin”
Falling from what I gather is all about becoming someone you don’t like and acknowledging that. It is about watching a loved one leave and having to pick up the broken pieces of what is left from a relationship that once was. Pain from heartbreak can cause us to spiral and become and act in a way that doesn’t necessarily align with who we truly are. It can cloud one’s vision, as it most likely did in Harry’s case here. There are many interpretations of what he has specifically ‘done’ but I am not going to feed into any specific rumours. The song is definitely one to cry too and probably one that most people can relate to at one point in their lives. I love it and cannot wait to hear the vocals live on tour!
7. To Be So Lonely – 4/5
The sounds on To Be So Lonely are so much fun! I think the first thing I thought about when I heard this song was solo Europe travel… not too sure why really either. Despite the title and what you may expect to hear going into this song, it definitely is not that. This song is lighthearted and definitely has some Hawaiin vibes radiating off of it.
The way this song has been mostly interpreted so far is based around the stage of denial, as it resembles his attempt to remove his own guilt from the breakup as if he has no fault in it. However, he is definitely lonely and will admit to it but that is about it.
I think I like this song a lot because of how well it will suit the Summertime for us in Australia! The heat, the beach, road trips. This song could fit into any one of those scenarios perfectly!
“And I’m just an arrogant son of a bitch
Who can’t admit when he’s sorry”
8. She – 4.5/5
She is a powerhouse anthem. This song gives off rock vibes left to right and centre! There is no denying that She is one of the more psychedelic songs on the album. It is as if he is dreaming of the perfect lover and soulmate. The dream could also be (and most likely is) interpreted to actually be an acid trip – considering the album has drugs as a core theme according to Harry himself.
“She lives in daydreams with me”
You feel like you are in a psychedelic dream listening to this song. It’s a sexy song that resembles the likes of his song Woman on self-titled (one of, if not my favourite song off his debut album). However, all that aside, one of the best parts of this song is most definitely the guitar solo. It is phenomenal. Mitch Rowland has done it again.
9. Sunflower, VOL. 6 – 5/5
Sunflower Vol. 6 is one of the more indie tracks of the album. It sounds similar to something that you would hear from Vampire Weekend – which is odd since they also have a song titled Sunflower too. It is a happy tune about being in love and admiration for beauty. Again, another Summer song that is catchy, bright and could put a smile on your face when you are feeling down.
“Sunflowers sometimes keep it sweet in your memory
I was just tongue-tied”
The lyrics indicate it is about a crush on someone, making it feel like a more youthful track on the album. It radiates positivity. It could also be interpreted as an acceptance, whereby Harry is rehashing old memories that were positive for him in the relationship. What made the relationship work, what qualities made him fall in love with the person and what made the experience special.
I think we sometimes overlook positive and upbeat songs when considering the “best songs” on an album because they aren’t as deep or sad. In this case, I find the positive, upbeat nature of this song to be its best quality and the reason I love it so much. I cannot wait to play this song all Summer long!
As a side note; the sounds Harry makes at the end of this song are going to absolutely be one of the highlights of Love On Tour… I am calling it now!
10. Canyon Moon – 3.5/5
If Canyon Moon is Stevie Nicks’ favourite song then it should be noted that it should never be overlooked. It isn’t my personal favourite on the album, but I think that likewise to Sunflower it brings a burst of positivity to the album. They are songs to travel and meet new people too. They are songs to dance too. To brighten up a room, play this song.
“Carry the feeling, through Paris, all through Rome
And I’m still thinking back to the time under the canyon moon”
The song is quite literally interpreted as being about Harry’s recollection of past memories of joyous times. He sings that he is coming home. Whether home is a person, place, experience – we don’t know. Or maybe it is all of those combined. Maybe home is touring with his fans… we can think that anyway! On the surface level, it may be coming home to a lover but I think it is definitely open to individual interpretation!
11. Treat People With Kindness – 3/5
The song that probably has decided the fan base the most. Treat People With Kindness is the happiest, most tour-appropriate song! It is basically an interactive song, with chants that break the fourth wall. It is a little less mature than the other songs, but I think that makes it an interesting addition to the album. It completes it perfectly, especially when Harry has had the TPWK logo as his trademark for his solo career!
“TREAT PEOPLE WITH KINDNESS”
I really don’t think I need to quote any other lyrics when these four words speak for themselves. I assume if you are reading this review you have most likely listened to the album or at least some songs. Treat People With Kindness is a fun dance song that has a beautiful message. Like I said, in terms of the sounds and chorus, it is my least favourite but I think one thing that is in agreement with this song amount fans is; it will be amazing to hear live on tour!
Go give it a listen! Don’t discredit the message because of the introduction!
12. Fine Line – 5/5
My favourite track is the 16 minute and 18-second final track that is… Fine Line. This song is quite possibly Harry’s most vulnerable and mature song. Something about this song makes it the perfect track for introspection, catharsis and revelation. The lyrics, incredible drums and guitar, repetition and vocals are to be heard. Altogether, they make the concluding track, the best one in my personal opinion.
“We’ll be alright”
Somehow, this line is both life-affirming and reassuring. We will be fine, we will move on, grow and become our best selves. I think the idea is that the album follows the different stages of heartbreak and the concluding statement to be made is that you will be fine in the end. Pain does not last forever, it is temporary. You will heal and become stronger. The human experience is not meant to be perfect but beautifully flawed. Our lows often create the most profound memories and experiences for us. There will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. Always. We will be alright.