In June 2017, I reviewed Harry Styles’ self-titled debut album. And while anyone who knows me knows that I am slightly obsessed with him, I tried to write as unbiased as possible (but hey, this is my personal blog. Let me live a little).
And yesterday, Friday the 13th, Styles released his sophomore album. Fine Line. So, here we go again. Let me preface this review by saying: I am a tried and true Harry Styles fan. So obviously I’m not going to hate the album.
What year is it? Style’s latest album reflects Bowie, Elton John, Pink Floyd and more.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Styles admits that much of his inspiration came from “the greats” throughout music history. Music writer Rob Sheffield recounts his interview with Styles. “In the studio, while making the album, Harry kept watching a vintage Bowie clip on his phone… For Harry, this was an inspiring pep talk — a reminder not to play it safe. As Bowie says, “If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you are capable of being in.”
The album cover speaks for the musical style of the album. Styles kept the pink color scheme of his debut album while opting for a more bizarre photo affect.
I really didn’t think Fine Line would be as good. I just assumed he couldn’t make an album as good as his debut. Or that he would be a sellout to mainstream music. I was right and I was wrong. But overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I immediately noticed that compared to Styles’ first album, Fine Line has a more cohesive style. If I had to describe this album, I would pin it as a groovy 1970s psychedelic rock inspired one.
Harry Styles: Rock star, pop star or neither? There’s an argument to be made.
Rolling Stone was very quick to name Styles as an up and coming rock star, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Harry is not making rock music (at least, not modern rock). He is most certainly, however, paying hommage to the classic rock styles of Led Zeppelin and Jefferson Airplane. But that does not make him a rock star. Sorry.
From the feel-good opening track of “Golden” to the existential ballad “Falling,” Harry Styles bares his soul to the world in Fine Line. The lyrics were surprisingly succinct and direct, sometimes seemingly without any creativity involved. “Cherry” even includes a voice memo of his ex-girlfriend, Camille Rowe and “Treat People With Kindness” reminds me of the The 5th Dimension. “Fine Line,” however, does a wonderful job of closing out the album with a synth-filled, moody tune.
Favorite song: She
Least favorite song: Canyon Moon
It’s been five years since One Direction broke up, and Styles is still soaring. His musical style and public image is continuously being shaped, but people can’t get enough. As Sheffield said, “[Harry Styles is] a curious kid who can’t decide whether to be the world’s most ardently adored pop star, or a freaky artiste. So he decides to be both.”
It will be interesting to see how this career continues, being that is still in the beginning stages. Styles has a lot of potential but even more pressure on this road ahead of him. Good luck, Harry.
P.S. If you’re interested in checking out more reviews, read this Pitchfork album review. And maybe comment below your thoughts on the album. Happy listening!