“Fine Line” review: Harry Styles’ phenomenal return

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Mackenzie Jones, Staff writer

Although originally eliminated on The X Factor in 2010, Harry Styles is one of the most recognizable pop music artists around the world. Initially, Styles began his music career as a One Direction band member in 2010, but after the band took a break in 2015, he started his successful journey to becoming an individual music artist. 

 

Independently he is known for releasing pop, indie folk, hard and soft rock genres of music. His songs typically feature his strong vocals and varying guitar types. Styles released his first album back in 2017 titled “Harry Styles” where there are drastically different forms of music present. For instance, hard rock songs “Kiwi” and “Only Angel,” as well as soft rock songs “Sweet Creature” and “From the Dining Table” appear on this album. Listeners would likely expect the same genres for “Fine Line,” but surprisingly, more pop songs are produced over rock.

 

Styles has been pretty quiet since that album release until it was revealed that his new album, titled “Fine Line”, was in the works and was scheduled to drop on Dec. 13. The 12 official songs on the album include “Golden,” “Watermelon Sugar,” “Adore You,” “Lights Up,” “Cherry,” “Falling,”  “To Be So Lonely,” “She,” “Sunflower, Vol. 6,” “Canyon Moon,” “Treat People With Kindness” and “Fine Line.” All of the songs range anywhere from two minutes to seven minutes long. “Fine Line” is the longest song at six minutes and 17 seconds long and “Lights Up” is the shortest song at two minutes and 52 seconds long.

 

The first song on the track, “Golden”, is unarguably the perfect song to begin the album with. The song opens with light piano and low drums before Styles’ vocals make their debut into a cheerful tune. However quickly following, the singing of the lyrics oddly gives off a blue feeling, the opposite of the fast-faced instruments and upbeat introduction. Overall, “Golden” is an equally sad and happy song, but the placement of the song in the album is pure genius. This being the first song allows Styles’ listeners to get an idea of what to expect in the following songs: a mix of high and low energy songs.

 

Although it is currently the winter season, “Fine Line” has an abundance of tropical, upbeat and summer vibes. While there is plenty of energetic songs, there is also a fair share of gloomy songs on the album as previously stated. Therefore, having both happy, fast-paced songs, and sad, slow-paced songs present, is convenient for listeners who choose to listen to music according to their mood. The factors that go into the distinction of separating each song into the categories of joyful or dismal are simply the pace of the song, the volume level of singing as well as the instrument choice.

 

The high energy songs include: “Golden,” “Watermelon Sugar,” “Adore You,” “Lights Up,” “Sunflower, Vol. 6,” “Canyon Moon” and “Treat People With Kindness.” Common characteristics of these songs are upbeat and fast-paced and Styles projects his voice so the overall volume is elevated. The instruments typically used in these songs are drums, piano and electric guitar to create an ecstatic feeling. Additionally, there are elements such as whistling that appear in “Canyon Moon,” trombone strikes that make for a thrill in “Watermelon Sugar” and a chorus with clapping in “Treat People With Kindness.”

 

In contrast, the low energy songs include: “Cherry,” “Falling,” “To Be So Lonely,” “She,” and “Fine Line.” The similarities that these songs share are a mellow and slow pace to create a doleful environment and Styles typically keeps his singing at a monotone pitch and low volume. The instruments that are used in these songs are drums, piano, acoustic, bass and electric guitar and in one appearance, ukulele featured in “To Be So Lonely.” Most of these tracks have the key element somewhere in the song of Styles singing with bare piano such as in “Falling.” The combination of these instrumentals and vocals emphasizes the low energy songs being sorrowful. 

 

Although “Fine Line” was a beautiful return for Styles, a couple of the songs, unfortunately, don’t even reach three minutes long which may be disappointing to some listeners. “Watermelon Sugar” and “Lights Up” are less than three minutes when the rest are three to six minutes long so in comparison, they are on the shorter side. However, Styles makes up for this because he produced two more songs on this album than the “Harry Styles” album where he only had 10 songs.

 

Styles has proved that even with a two year break from releasing music, he still knows how to deliver amazing music. Styles makes a great pair of his outstanding vocals and incredible instruments and this album most definitely reassured his abilities. I rate “Fine Line’ a well-deserved A.