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Released: 2019

Label: Columbia

“Fine Line,” the sophomore studio album of former One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles, is a sonic journey that showcases his maturation as an artist and highlights his dynamic range in style and sound. Released in 2019 by Columbia Records, this album is a platinum testament to Styles’ versatile musical prowess. Tracks such as “Golden” and “Watermelon Sugar” embody his flirtation with sunbathed pop, while others like “Falling” and “To Be So Lonely” underline his penchant for vulnerable, emotive ballads. The grunge-infused anthem, “She,” interplays with the whimsical effervescence of “Sunflower, Vol. 6” and “Canyon Moon,” collectively offering a profound kaleidoscope into Styles’ artistic landscape.

Encompassing diverse genres, from psychedelic rock to soulful pop, this talent-drenched album fluidly explores different musical territories, marking Styles’ departure from his boyband image towards a more sophisticated, eclectic sound. Dotted with beguiling lyrics and Styles’ distinctive vocals, the album serves as a roadmap to the pop prodigy’s artistic journey, reflecting his immense growth and bold individuality. It’s a fine line, indeed, that Styles walks here—hence the apt album title—straddling pop anthems, somber ballads, and everything in-between, without ever faltering.

So let’s get into it. From “Golden” to “Fine Line,” here we are breaking down the album “Fine Line” by Harry Styles.

1 Golden

Reflective of Styles’ own emotional struggles, the line “I don’t wanna be alone,” recurs like a mantra, unfurling the singer’s most private fear in a deeply honest manner. The imagery in “You’re so golden, I don’t wanna be alone” mirrors this desperate yearning for companionship, interlaced with raw vulnerability. Meanwhile, “Golden, golden, golden as I open my eyes” captures a sense of awakening, of seeking the light amidst the shadows of loneliness. And in his bold acknowledgement of heartbreak’s reality, “I’m out of my head, and I know that you’re scared because hearts get broken,” Styles ventures into an earnest territory where he unshackles emotions, baring it unfiltered. Ultimately, “Golden” is Styles’ ode to love—the pain, the fear, and the iridescence of hope.

2 Watermelon Sugar

The line “Tastes like strawberries / On a summer evenin'” immediately immerses us in a world of sensory bliss, a momentary escape in the form of a song. The phrase “Breathe me in / Breathe me out / I don’t know if I could ever go without” suggests an almost addictive connection, a visceral need so intense that the thought of its absence seems unthinkable. Wrapped around a catchy chorus of “Watermelon sugar / High”, the song serves as a delightful ode to the fleeting euphoria of the warmest time of year, and the intoxicating allure of a sweet summer fling.

3 Adore You

‘You don’t have to say you love me, you don’t have to say nothing, you don’t have to say you’re mine,’ he croons, unfailingly prioritizing his beloved’s comfort over his own burning desire for affirmation. It’s an evocative ode to an all-consuming, foolhardy love, both liberated and confining, as he pledges, ‘like it’s the only thing I’ll ever do.’ Lyrically, Styles captures the fragility and fixation of desiring someone so intensely that it feels like a second nature, a sentiment encapsulated in the poignant line, ‘I get so lost inside your eyes.’

4 Lights Up

His resonant query, “Do you know who you are?” isn’t just a rhetorical shove to listeners, but an in-depth exploration of his own identity. The phrases “I’m never coming back down,” “I’m not ever going back,” and “I’m never going back now” echo Styles’ refusal to return to a self he’s outgrown; it’s a visceral rejection of inertia, a refusal to let the past’s gravity bind him. When he vows, “All the lights couldn’t put out the dark / Running through my heart,” he beautifully captures that edgy darkness that conflict invariably casts on individuality, even in the face of success and popularity. This isn’t a disavowal of human imperfections but a celebration of them in their raw sincerity and transformative potential. Ultimately, “Lights Up” captures Styles’ determination to step into the light and embrace the totality of his identity, shining with unabashed authenticity.

5 Cherry

Unabashedly raw and real, Styles spills the sorrow of a lost love. When he croons, “Don’t you call him what you used to call me”, the visceral pain is palpable, a testament to Styles’ evolved songwriting prowess. Styles’ longing for the past becomes strikingly clear in, “I just miss your accent and your friends. Did you know I still talk to them?”. The poignant verse, alongside a wistful French voicemail, amplifies the emotional intensity of the track. It’s an ode to an intimate relationship gone sour, where even the elements that were once shared have now been claimed by someone else. In “Cherry”, Styles not only reveals his heartache but also his eloquent understanding of the complex dynamics of love and loss.

6 Falling

It’s a poignant confession of not just falling out of love, but falling out of self – “What am I now? What if I’m someone I don’t want around?” Here, Styles grapples with a fractured identity post-breakup, echoing his despair in the minimal piano-driven melody. His soulful vocals drip with regret as he sings, “It’s not what I meant, And I can’t take it back, I can’t unpack the baggage you left”. His yearning echoes loudly – and it’s clear that the artist is lamenting more than a failed romance. He’s grappling with a profound sense of self-loss, a sentiment that strikes at the core of the human condition.

7 To Be So Lonely

Styles doesn’t plead for sympathy as he grimly admits, “I was away, and I’m just an arrogant son of a bitch” underscoring the self-blame for relationship fallout. The cryptic “You’ll win, it’s just a trick” seems a nod to emotional manipulation — a darkly sophisticated lyrical turn. The song stands as a testament to his lyrical and emotional evolution, converting raw sentiments into music that strikes a relatable chord with listeners.

8 She

It’s a stirring exploration of a man caught between a humdrum reality and his dreamy, idealized love life. The lyric “She lives in daydreams with me, She’s the first one that I see, And I don’t know why, I don’t know who she is” captures the essence of this duality. The song serves as a gritty, soulful cry from the heart that intertwines angst and ethereality. It’s a shining example of Styles’ prowess as a songwriter who can deftly examine the complexities of human emotions, while wrapping them in a cocoon of raw, searing guitar riffs and atmospheric melodies.

9 Sunflower, Vol. 6

6″, Harry Styles deftly spins a web of desire and longing, woven together with floral metaphors and a palpably nostalgic soundtrack. The chorus stands bold — “I couldn’t want you any more, Kiss in the kitchen like it’s a dance floor” — Styles’ crooning vocals revealing an urgent need for intimacy that transcends the mundane, making dance floors out of kitchens. His yearning finds further voice in the line — “My eyes, want you more than a melody”, a beautiful testament to love’s all-encompassing power. But Styles also grapples with restraint, repeating “I don’t wanna make you feel bad, But I’ve been trying hard not to talk to you”, underscoring the emotional dichotomy of wanting to reach out and stepping back for the sake of the other. The sunflower becomes a motif, its decay hinting at a relationship past its bloom, yet bearing seeds of potential renewal.

10 Canyon Moon

Lyrics like “Sky never looked so blue / So hard to leave it / That’s what I always do / So I keep thinking back to / A time under the canyon moon” resonates deeply, with a harmony that’s wistfully beautiful. The song captures a sense of longing and pining for a simpler time while also expressing a profound comfort in the vagaries of travel. That chorus – “I’m going, oh I’m going / I’m going, oh I’m going home” – drives into you and stays, echoing the nomadic spirit in all of us, craving belonging but entranced by the road. It is a song injected with a heavy shot of wanderlust, wrapped up in the allure of an old lover’s hippie music.

11 Treat People With Kindness

The lyrics, as implied by its title, extend an open invitation for empathy and compassion, essentially a roadmap to a place “to feel good”. Styles balances optimism and realism, acknowledging life’s uncertainties with lines like “Giving second chances, I don’t need all the answers”. Yet, there’s an underlying strength in his positive resolution, most evident when he asserts, “Feeling good in my skin, I just keep on dancin'”. His inclusivity stretches even further when he muses, “And if we’re here long enough, we’ll see it’s all for us, and we’ll belong”, signifying unity in shared human experiences. This uplifting number reminds us of the power of collective kindness in a world often clouded by negativity.

12 Fine Line

Each verse is a soundbite laden with experiential honesty – a rarity in the pop realm. Take note of the poignant “But man, I can hate you sometimes,” a striking confession of the love-hate realities of a complex relationship. The chorus, “We’ll be a fine line,” isn’t just catchy – it’s a pledge to navigate the tricky pathways of love, acknowledging the tightrope nature of emotional investment. “You sunshine, you temptress. My hand’s at risk, I fold,” showcases Styles’ vulnerability and the risk that comes with loving too deeply. The song’s repetitious motif, “We’ll be alright,” carries the weight of self-reassurance, indicative of Styles’ struggle with personal healing and growth.

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