On December 13, 2019, Harry Styles released his second album Fine Line. It flows with energy. His album goes from funky to sorrowful, back to funky, and finally hopeful. It’s full of heartbreak and reflection. Styles’ songs are experimental, drawing inspiration from classic rock stars like David Bowie. To make this colorful album, he holed up in LA and Japan, consuming plenty of magic mushrooms in the process.
Styles skyrocketed to fame as a member of the boy-band One Direction. After the band broke up, he released his debut album Harry Styles in 2017. While his first album was full of classic rock, Fine Line is much funkier.
Songs like “Cherry” and “Treat People With Kindness” embody this. In “Cherry,” Styles bookends the song using a voicemail from his ex-girlfriend, the Victoria’s Secret model Camille Rowe, speaking French. The song has peaceful guitar-backed melody but it’s clear that Styles is jealous that she’s moved on, crooning “Don’t you call him ‘baby’ / We’re not talking lately / Don’t you call him what you used to call me.” In contrast, “Treat People With Kindness” is more abstract and positive. It has upbeat guitar riffs and a catchy chorus. He sings, “Maybe we can find a place to feel good / And we can treat people with kindness / Find a place to feel good.” This song is one of his most psychedelic songs on the album.
In press for Fine Line, Styles has reiterated how important this album was for his creative exploration. In an interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Styles said to Lowe, “When I listen to the first album [Harry Styles] now, I can hear all of the places where I was playing it safe,” but he says, “I went into the second one feeling like, ‘I want to work out how to make all of this really fun.’’’ Making Fine Line was a way for Styles to lean into his creativity and be more open than he has in the past. This is evident by how he opens up about his love life in songs throughout the album, whereas usually he is very tight lipped about his relationships.
Two more great songs from this album are “Adore You” and “Lights Up.” The music video for “Adore You” is, let’s just say … unique. It casts Harry Styles as a lonely boy who befriends a fish but later learns to let go — further evidence of the album’s funk. The song itself is a cheerful ode to love with lyrics like, “I’d walk through fire for you / Just let me adore you / Like it’s the only thing I’ll ever do.” In “Lights Up” Styles is more introspective. He sings, “Shine, step into the light / Shine, so bright sometimes / Shine, I’m not ever going back.” Many of his fans think that this song could be his way of coming out as bisexual, since he pre-released it on National Coming Out Day.
Some people think that Harry Styles is queerbaiting fans by hinting at being bisexual, but never actually defining his sexuality. Historically, Styles has made a point of not labelling himself. When asked by Tom Lamont of The Guardian about if he’s bi, Styles said, “It’s not like I’m sitting on an answer, and protecting it … it’s not a case of: I’m not telling you because I don’t want to tell you,” or “ooh this is mine and it’s not yours … it’s just, who cares?”
Personally, I think it’s fine that Styles doesn’t want to put a label on himself. It suits his habit of trail-blazing as an artist and as a male role model who ignores the gender expectations placed on his fashion and life choices.
All in all, Harry Styles’ latest album Fine Line is a fantastic, creative flurry of funky, psychedelic pop-rock. I definitely recommend it.