Exploring the 2019 Sensation that is Fine Line by Harry Styles

Katelyn Seamonds, Staff Writer

When I first came across the album Fine Line by Harry Styles on Dec 26, 2019, I had absolutely no idea how much the music inside would change my life. Composed of a balanced mixture of soft rock and euphoric pop, the album gives you the illusion of summer warmth completely encompassing you, even though it was released on a freezing December day.

“Lights Up,” the fourth track, was the first song to fully draw me into the incredible composition of Harry Styles songs. The pop beat, mixed with a techy piano creates an almost futuristic sound as Styles sings the track’s most common line “Do you know who you are,” questioning his audience, and leaving room for interpretation on what he is trying to convey. This is a common theme in many songs on the album. Styles, who is known to be very private with his relationships and target listeners, happily encourages his fans to come up with their own theories and interpretations about the meaning of his songs.

Watermelon Sugar, easily recognized as both one of the most popular Styles’ songs, and as Fine Line’s lead single, was one that drew many people’s attention during the beginning of quarantine. March of 2020 seemed to deflate and confusing for the majority of people; no one was quite sure what the future held with the Coronavirus. Luckily, at the same time, the British singer’s single made a re-appearance in the billboard charts accompanied by the release of the song’s sunny music video that depicted a warm beach day with an abundance of watermelon and other fruits. Bringing an upbeat song about summer and fruit to people’s speakers was something that seemed to help uplift the discouraging time we were living in. Even though the song eventually became overplayed on about every pop radio station, it began as a welcome distraction from the truth of our reality.

“It’s more an album about romantic ambivalence,” said Variety Magazine while looking back on some of the sadder tracks such as “Cherry,” a true jealous breakup song, and “Falling,” which depicts a similar message, speaking to the true nature of Fine Line. It’s a breakup album. One constructed to fit all the conflicting feelings one may go through. Regret and despair are seen in the lyrics and composition of songs like Falling, To Be So Lonely, and Cherry, as well as a brighter outlook, with a more uplifting theme on the album’s title track “Fine Line.”

The songs gave me the chance to listen to a story throughout an album that was vague enough to add your interpretation to each song. As the world became confusing and stressful in the early months of 2020, I looked towards music as a way of distraction and happiness. Songs like “Canyon Moon” and “Adore You” gave me that. Both reflect a certain soft rock ambiance that is highlighted in hits by Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac, giving both songs a 70’s vibe, while still reflecting patterns of modern day pop. “The Sixties and Seventies signifiers sprinkled throughout the album…are expertly Vitamixed into pop-rock smoothies you can dance to,” said Nick Catucci, in his Rolling Stone reviewing Styles album.

Fine Line is the perfect mixture of some brightness you might be looking for, with a few sad ballads to sing your heart out to. Throughout the 13 songs on his sophomore album, Styles wonderfully explains what it means to be on a fine line, standing between two contrasting things: sadness and happiness.

During my first listen to this album, nearly two years ago, I never would have thought that an album would end up sticking with me this long. I am, to this day, still completely amazed and immersed in the way Harry Styles portrays emotions and stories throughout melodies and song lyrics. With Fine Line, Styles was able to create elaborate songs, by the way he composed both older music influences and newer ones, I can sincerely state that I still find myself noticing new things about each song, during every listen. They never seem to get old. It will be exciting to see what Styles comes up with in the future, to further expand his incredible music career.