Critics’ Corner

Music Review: Fine Line by Harry Styles


Graphic by Rivy

Ellie O’Sullivan, Sophomore, Features Editor

Harry Styles released his highly anticipated album on December 13, 2019. Styles was originally a member of the wildly popular boy band One Direction until the group broke up in 2015. He released his solo album, Harry Styles, in May of 2017. The album was well-received, with many of the singles ending up on the Billboard Hot 100 and the album ending up certified platinum in the U.S. alone. His latest album, Fine Line, received an astoundingly positive response from fans; not surprising being that the preceding  singles  Lights Up,  Watermelon  Sugar, and Adore You were crazy popular. Many speculate that  the album was a way to introduce new fans to his music.

Styles’ songs are hard to nail down into just one meaning. Just  take Watermelon Sugar  for example. Almost everybody I spoke to in high school genuinely thought it was about some form of vaping. Which isn’t that crazy of an assumption given being that the lyrics are “I don’t know if I could ever go without watermelon sugar high.” This is possibly a reference to the fruity flavors of Juuls and e-cigarettes as well as the “high” one gets from the nicotine. However, there’s no actual defined meaning to the song. Some people think it’s about his now ex-girlfriends favorite book. The song itself was one of the more successful tracks. It showcases Harry’s very strong vocals as well as his excellent lyric writing. It takes a few listens before you realize how minimal the actual musical aspect is for the majority of the song. That’s not always a good thing, but it works well for this style.

To describe the album in one word it would be “vibey”. His sound borders between mainstream pop, a more indie sound, and the occasional rock song. I personally can’t argue with any of these genres, but it can lead to a fan base that is partial to the more pop songs but dislike the songs that end up on the more mellow, laid-back tracks. For example, lots of people liked Lights Up as opposed to Sunflower Vol. 6 (my personal favorite song). Sunflower Vol. 6 took up a very different sound. The best way to describe it is to compare it to music produced by bands like  HUNNY, Surf Curse, or boy pablo. There’s a somewhat lo-fi quality to it, but it’s still just complex enough to enjoy and listen to multiple times.

I went into this album pretty much blind. I hadn’t  listened to  Styles’ previous  album and I wasn’t the biggest  fan  of One  Direction, but  I genuinely enjoyed the album nonetheless. I really liked the songs that ended up on the indie spectrum, like Canyon Moon and To Be So Lonely. Each song was enjoyable and unique in its own right, which made every track interesting and fun to listen to.

Fine Line left 2019 topping the charts and entered 2020 the same way, certainly well deserved. Styles deserves the recognition he’s received for his latest works and the praise doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The album was a huge success and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who may be on the fence about getting into Styles’ music.