Harry Styles performs at the Forum on Dec 13.(Helene Pambrun)
Mission Viejo High School

Review: Harry Styles’ ‘Fine Line’ is the album you need going into 2020

Harry Styles released his second studio album on Dec. 13, “Fine Line,” since leaving the infamous boy band One Direction. After the release of Styles’ eponymous debut albumHarry Styles,” fans around the world were skeptical that Styles would continue with another album, even me. 

In early October however, fans started to spot cryptic posters in places like London, Australia and even some in downtown Los Angeles. The posters read “Do You Know Who You Are?” and the Columbia Records logo, the record label Styles is apart of.

Fans quickly assumed it was a teaser by Styles after realizing the posters inclusion of the letters “TPWK” at the bottom was an abbreviation for “Treat People With Kindness,” a saying Styles had used for his past merchandise.

Fans on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and other social media platforms waited with eagerness to see if Styles himself would confirm the rumors of a future album. On Oct. 5, Styles mysteriously tweeted “Do,” which seemed like some sort of confirmation from Styles that the mysterious posters were from him.

In late November, he would eventually reveal on all his social media platforms that he would be releasing his sophomore album. The songs on the album are all essentially about his breakup with now ex-girlfriend Camille Rowe, a French American model.

However, I think the songs can have various meanings that fans can connect to and not just be restricted to the whole “breakup album” stereotype.

The first song released from the album was “Lights Up” on Oct. 11. I didn’t know what to expect going into hearing it for the first time, but I was surprised to hear a more indie record form Styles.

It showcases a lot of Styles’ harmonious vocals as well as the inclusion of a choir in some parts. Styles later revealed in an interview with Capital FM that the single expressed a feeling of freedom and being yourself. 

A whole month later, Styles released “Watermelon Sugar” on the night of his SNL appearance. The second song on the album, this song features a brass-heavy chorus with his coined rock and groovy vibe.

I was surprised that Styles included a more brassy tone because he had never really shown that type of musicality before. The mix of the percussion and electric guitar layered with the small bits of brass makes the entire song catchy while still being unique. It’s one of those songs that even if you listen to it just once, it’s bound to get stuck in your head. 

Styles then released “Adore You,” the third song on the album. Styles’ song was tied to the fictional island of Eroda — adore backwards. He even came up with the idea to have a website promoting the fictional island.

The story of the island, which is explained in the music video, is about a boy who smiles so bright it scares the citizens of the island. He then contemplates suicide until he meets a fish that also is different like him and the boy and the fish ultimately find joy in being unique.

The song has a bit of a different meaning according to an interview Styles did with Entercom.

“It’s about that initial infatuation stage when you get that heavy feeling of just bliss, like a blissful, very joyous connection with someone,” Styles told Entercom.

The song itself, like his other songs, has a catchy chorus with a unique bass and drum melody. This song I would say is more mainstream but that doesn’t mean it’s any less good than his other songs.

The album opens with the song “Golden.” It has a tamer sound with the melody being drum focused along with the harmonious layers and subtle guitar. The song is seemingly about loving the company of someone who is golden.

“[It’s] the perfect PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) song. It’s like driving down the coast, that is what the song is for. It feels so Malibu to me,” Styles said in an interview with Zane Lowe published to Styles’ YouTube

The fifth song “Cherry” sounds very Beatles-inspired. Besides from some bass chords, the entire song mainly uses a moog synthesizer. This particular instrument gives it that 1960s inspired sound. The song ends with the voice of Styles’ ex-girlfriend Camille Rowe, making me believe this song is mainly about their relationship.

In some parts, it feels like he’s missing or longing for his ex-lover as seen in lyrics like “I just miss your accent and your friends.”

However, Styles also shows a more jealous side of him as seen in lyrics like “does he take you walking ’round his parents’ gallery?” which is a reference to Theo Niarchos, a gallerist who started dating Styles’ ex shortly after their breakup. 

Following “Cherry,” you have the piano-ballad “Falling.” This song is sure to leave you in tears. Styles describes himself becoming someone he doesn’t want to be and shows the true agony of a breakup. It’s not the worst song on the album, but it’s just not a song I can personally listen to all of the time like the other songs because of how melancholy the song is. 

“To Be So Lonely,” is one of my many favorites. It is significantly different to his other songs musically wise with an interesting guitar vibrato like sound as well as an interesting melody for the chorus. This song shows the after stage of a breakup.

The song can be seen through the perspective of a drunk caller as seen in lyrics like “don’t blame the drunk caller.” The overall tone of the song is very prideful to the point were you can just imagine a drunk ex calling you.

With lines like “don’t call me ‘baby’ again” and then the switch in lyrics like “I miss the shape of your lips,” Styles shows the inner battle he has with his emotions after his breakup. 

The next song “She,” has a slower tempo than the rest of the songs on the album but still has the typical Harry Styles punch with the electric guitar in the background throughout the song. It sounds similar to a song on his previous album called “Two Ghost” with the percussion in the beginning.

This is also another one of my favorites because of the staccato like punch the guitar brings in the background. The song seemingly describes an ideal lover Styles has according to the song, only “in daydreams.”

If you are looking for a more upbeat song on this album, “Sunflower, Vol. 6” is it. It has an almost Hawaiian Luau vibe mixed with a pop of some soft rock influence in between. I think the best part of this song, besides it being fun and groovy, is near the end were Styles just sings a bunch of random noises. 

“Canyon Moon” is also one of the other upbeat songs. It has a playful tone with the upbeat melody form an instrument called a dulcimer which is played by Styles himself. It also keeps that upbeat energy with the tambourine in the background and the whistle that is heard near the end of the song.

I took the song as someone remembering their “Canyon Moon” — a place that reminds them of a certain time in their life that is filled with good memories.

Arguably one of the best songs on the album is “Treat People With Kindness.” One of the most unique parts about this song that makes it stand out from the rest of the songs on the album is just simply the musical direction Styles and his team went with for this track.

The choir that sings the chorus, the allegretto percussion, the piano that is layered in between the song, makes for an almost 1960s or 1970s sound. It’s a feel-good song that just makes you want to dance. 

Sadly, the last song on the album is “Fine Line.” It comes back again to softer and sadder sounds that are shown throughout the album however, it oddly has an inspiring tone near the end. It truly is an epic outro to such an emotional album. It takes a more Bon Iver style for the majority of the song having light vocals and an acoustic guitar layered in the back.

However, in the final minutes of the song, you get the addition of various instruments like the horn, loud percussion, piano and orchestra. In words it sounds chaotic but, Styles takes the perfect amount of each instrument to leave you with a truly beautiful ending.

When it comes to “Fine Line,” I think even those that hate One Direction or those who hate pop music can find a song for them. Whether it be the high energy and groovy track “Treat People With Kindness” or the piano ballad “Falling” that you play when you are feeling down, I think that you will find a song for you on this album.

“Fine Line” will be my album going into 2020 and I hope after you listen to it, it will be yours too.