Harry Styles brings the Bowie on his sophomore solo album, “Fine Line,” where he approaches each song with a glamorous energy reminiscent of the 70s pop icon. With his second album, Styles has managed to create a collection of songs that, while not perfect, is still something far above most pop artists in the industry today.
The subject of “Fine Line” seems to be his split from model Camille Rowe in 2018, and what he sees as the ideal romance. This leads to some interesting metaphors found within the lyrics, such as using berries as a symbol for Styles’ desire for more intimacy, that paint a vivid picture of what that relationship was like. Listening to these lyrics adds an extra level of intrigue to the album, but doesn’t leave any remarkable impression on the listener aside from the more intimate tracks like “Adore You.”
My main criticism of the album is the structure that the majority of the tracks follow, in which the choruses dominated the largest portion of each song and were filled with repetition. Most verses only had a few lines to them, and were pretty much forgotten by the time the song got to the next one. The consequence of this was that as a listener, I was occasionally impatient and just wanted to move on to the next song.
On the other side of the coin, an aspect of the LP that plays to its benefit is the heavy emphasis on instrumentals. Rather than just putting Styles at the forefront of each song and letting a basic, synthesized trap beat play in the background as many mainstream songs tend to do, the album allows some funky guitar grooves or powerful piano notes to help carry the tone for the individual tracks, giving each song its own unique aura.
This is where I must give Harry Styles my greatest amount of respect: he is very obviously putting a great amount of effort into exploring the art of music. It seems a lot of his music involves experimentation, and this genuine fearlessness is not only working, but is incredibly refreshing in today’s current ideology of wash, rinse, repeat found in all genres. So while “Fine Line” may not be best album it can be, it sets the bar for what music and the culture surrounding it could and should be.