Review: Harry Styles’ new album ‘Fine Line’ gives listeners a contemporary taste of 70s rock

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Review: Harry Styles’ new album ‘Fine Line’ gives listeners a contemporary taste of 70s rock

Harry Styles’ latest album Fine Line shows his development as an artist. Much like his self titled album released in 2017, there is a clear influence from 70’s artists.

Harry Styles’ latest album Fine Line shows his development as an artist. Much like his self titled album released in 2017, there is a clear influence from 70’s artists.

Harry Styles US

Harry Styles’ latest album Fine Line shows his development as an artist. Much like his self titled album released in 2017, there is a clear influence from 70’s artists.

Harry Styles US

Harry Styles US

Harry Styles’ latest album Fine Line shows his development as an artist. Much like his self titled album released in 2017, there is a clear influence from 70’s artists.

Rayna Acha, Staff Writer

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From fun pop lyrics about “what makes you beautiful” in 2011 to slow ballads stating “there’s no one to blame but the drink and my wandering hands” in 2019, Harry Styles’ latest album Fine Line shows his development as an artist, an album he describes as being about “having sex and being sad.” In an interview with Rolling Stones, Styles compared his experience with songwriting while in One Direction to now, saying that “Sometimes if you’re, like, telling a really personal story, then the voice changes every few lines; it doesn’t quite do the same thing.” 

For some their love of One Direction has passed, while others remain Directioners. Harry Styles, the charming “flirt” of the group, has released his sophomore album Fine Line. Much like his self titled album released in 2017, there is a clear influence from 70’s artists. In a Rolling Stones article, Harry cited some of his music influences; Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Stevie Nicks to Van Morrison, Paul Simon, and Paul McCartney. The album is a bit less folky than the first album, but nonetheless, his influences shine through in his album. 

The stigma of One Direction and boy bands has made the general public less open to Harry’s new album, but it is well worth a listen whether you were a Directioner in 2012 or never had any interest in the group. However, some former members of the band don’t deserve the hype. Liam Payne came out with his first solo album LP1 which has been heavily scrutinized. One of the singles, “Both Ways,” is incredibly biphobic and fetishizes bisexual women. Styles, however, has a line of supporters in the LGBTQ+ community.

Golden:

The album begins with Golden, a summery song with a lot of heartbreak. This song is really beautiful and the chorus is just the right amount of catchy with the repetition of “you’re so golden,” but it remains true to Harry’s overall vibe. The song was a great choice to start the album with. 

Watermelon Sugar:

Harry is back again with a fruit titled song and I love it. First there was “Kiwi” from his self-titled album, and now “Watermelon Sugar” is an absolute bop. First debuted live on SNL, it’s a poppy song that feels summery with sexual references. “Watermelon Sugar,” it shows how unconventional Harry is. He made a summer song and released it in November, an authentic way of showing that he’s not all about radio waves. 

Adore You:

The most pop-like song is definitely Adore You, the third single on the album. Personally, I ADORE this song. It’s poppy but stays true to Harry’s style, with a funky electric guitar melody and a solo. In a Rolling Stones interview Styles discussed fun pop songs saying, “This time I really felt so much less afraid to write fun pop songs. It had to do with the whole thing of being on tour and feeling accepted. I listen to stuff like Harry Nilsson and Paul Simon and Van Morrison, and I think, well, Van Morrison has ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and Nilsson has ‘Coconut.’ Bowie has ‘Let’s Dance.’ The fun stuff is important.” The song also goes along with a music video that’s much like a movie.

Lights Up:

Lights Up was the first song released on the album. “Shine, step into the light,” Styles sings on this track. This song is pretty funky and I’ve listened to it many times since the initial release. It was a great song to introduce the album to come. 

Cherry:

Cherry is the first slower song that appears on the album. There’s a beautiful picked acoustic guitar melody in the back that reminds me of Fleetwood Mac and his other 70s influences. As a fan of the 70s I adore this song. Harry’s voice remains incredibly calm as he works his way through this song dedicated to his ex girlfriend Camille Rowe, a French model. He sings, “don’t you call him ‘baby,’” in the chorus, the whole song being about being sad and jealous. At the end, a voicemail from Rowe plays, adding to the intimacy. 

Falling:

Falling continues the slower ballad section of the album. It feels stripped, and Styles’s voice rings through strongly. Falling is incredibly emotional, with Harry Styles questioning, “what if I’m someone I don’t want around,” which whether you’re going through a breakup or not, teenagers constantly share the same emotion as the 25 year-old artist. 

To Be So Lonely:

Another song with a beautiful guitar melody that would make anyone want to pick up a guitar and learn the song. He sings about heartbreak again but it’s a bit more upbeat as he sings “I’m just an arrogant son-of-a-b****.” The more I listen to this song the more I love it, noticing details I hadn’t heard before in my initial listens such as the violin.

She:

A sultry rock song that I needed. This song has a similar vibe to “Woman” on his self-titled album and an intro that reminded me of “Meet Me In the Hallway.” This song is another favorite of mine (I honestly can’t choose), partially because the tone reminds me of the Arctic Monkey’s song One For The Road. The chorus “she lives in daydreams with me” has a sexy vibe that adds so much to the song and an album that references sex frequently. 

Sunflower, Vol. 6:

The synthesizer on this song is absolutely perfect. It’s a little funky and very fun. Sunflower, Vol. 6 has a very cool feeling with cute lyrics like “your flowers just die, plant new seeds in the melody.” Critics have compared this song to those of Vampire Weekend so if that’s your vibe give it a listen (or if it’s not). 

Canyon Moon:

This is where Harry’s love for the Joni Mitchell album Blue comes in. There’s something about this song that reminds me of “Case of You” and I love it. A 70s influenced folk/soft rock that sounds like it came out at the time. Canyon Moon is a really cute song about being “underneath the canyon moon.”

Treat People with Kindness:

Harry said he experimented with shrooms while making the album and here it shows. For me I have to look past the initial Queen church choir part of the song to find gold. I was hesitant about the preschool message “treat people with kindness” along with a chorus and claps but it’s kind of funky and I like that. The verses are really solid and Styles’ voice is fun. The last minute of the song really shines. 

Fine Line:

The title song of the album, is another slow heartbreak song. “We’ll be a fine line,” he repeats multiple times with gorgeous harmonies. It closes the album on a sadder note. The song’s grandeur trumpets close out the album with grace. You can then click repeat, hopping on the train of heartbreak and fun all over again.

And that concludes the journey this album takes listeners on.