By Tanisha Bhat ('20)
On December 13, Harry Styles released his second album, Fine Line. Styles filled his new album with many classic-rock references from the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. To promote the album, the 25-year-old solo artist released three singles, “Lights Up,” “Watermelon Sugar,” and “Adore You” to give his fans a taste of what was to come.
The first track on the album is “Golden” and introduces the listener to the classic-rock influences of the 1970s band Crosby, Stills & Nash. It starts out with instrumentals from the drums and the guitar that slowly ease into the lyrics. The song is about the honeymoon stage of a relationship and the initial joys of first love.
Styles compares his love interest to the sun, singing “I know you were way too bright for me.”
The first verse then takes a turn with Styles saying he is not ready to be involved with the person as he sings “I'm hopeless, broken, so you wait for me in the sky.”
The chorus reverts to the feeling of doubt he has about his new relationship and how Styles feels he is undeserving of the happiness the relationship is bringing him.
The second verse begins with Styles singing “I don't want to be alone when it ends,” expressing that his fear of being alone is greater than losing his partner, alluding to his 2018 relationship with Camille Rowe, an American-French model.
Despite the song’s catchiness and great use of background instrumentals, the lyrics in “Golden” slowly become repetitive after the second chorus. Styles repeats the word “Golden” or the phrase “You’re so golden” over and over again until the listener can no longer take it. Although it is brave of Styles to open up about his fears and misgivings of his romantic relationships, the redundant lyrics hurt any potential “Golden” had to become a fan favorite.
Unlike the other songs on the album, “Adore You” is a much happier song and is about Styles’s crush. He is infatuated with this person and describes them as a “rainbow paradise”.
Despite his complicated previous relationships, Styles has only one request from the other person. He wants a no-strings-attached relationship, singing, “You don't have to say you love me, You don't have to say nothing, You don't have to say you're mine.”
The happiness expressed in the song is prevalent in the music as well. The song starts off slow and builds momentum as it approaches the lyrics. A steady drumbeat and guitar music are prevalent throughout contributing to the feeling of joy Styles feels for his new crush.
Towards the end of the song, Styles and Amy Allen, a songwriter and record producer, harmonize the lyrics, “Oh, honey (Ah-ah-ah), I'd walk through fire for you, Just let me adore you Like it's the only thing I'll ever do.”
Being one of the few upbeat songs on the album, “Adore You” is able to convey the feeling of new love and joy to the listener. In addition to the thoughtful lyrics, Styles is able to deliver musically with his soft rock vibes and intricate beats.
The last track on the album is the title track “Fine Line” which leaves a deeper and emotional impact on the listener. In the first verse, Styles talks about how devoted he is to his partner but does not always like him/her, singing “But man, I can hate you sometimes.”This is the first indication to the listener that Styles is not completely invested in his relationship and feels trapped. However, he doesn’t want to start a fight due to his fear of being alone that he briefly mentioned in “Golden,” singing “I don't want to fight you, And I don't want to sleep in the dirt.” He keeps going through the motions for the sake of the other person, but when he is alone he thinks of another woman.
In the chorus, Styles sings “We’ll be a fine line” hinting that he does not plan on this being a long relationship and that he places a limit as to how far this relationship will go and how far he will go to maintain it.
In the second verse, Styles sings how his partner is a “Test of my patience” and that his partner is very secretive and hides things from him. He describes his partner as the sunshine and a temptress, expressing how he or she has a way of getting Styles to do what they want. The only time his partner breaks down his or her barriers is when the two of them are intimate, singing “Spreading you open is the only way of knowing you.” The song ends with a beautiful instrumental segment in which Styles harmonizes the lyrics “We’ll be a fine line. We’ll be alright.”
Listening to the song for the first time, one cannot help being in awe of the way Styles combines his ability to write thought-provoking lyrics along with his aptitude to create original classic rock music. The outro of “Fine Line” fills the listener’s ear with a delightful melody and the raw emotion oozing out from every lyric leaves them goosebumps. “Fine Line” is a unique conclusion to the album and leaves the listener wanting to press the next button, only to realize there aren’t any songs left.
Fine Line is a breath of fresh air in an era where every new song in pop music is manufactured and every artist chases the number one spot on the charts without giving any thought to their craft. Styles introduced many young people from this generation to the sounds of soft and classic rock, which they may have never heard before. Fans and new listeners alike can hear the hours of work, dedication, and thought that went behind each lyric. Rather than worrying about what type of music would be the most appealing to the masses, Styles stayed authentic to himself and the genre of music he is influenced by throughout the album, which obviously paid off in the end.