Weeks before Harry Styles’ second solo album Fine Line was released, everyone was talking about a mystery island called Eroda. It didn’t seem to exist, and yet there was an entire website dedicated to its tourism, as well as target ads for it. Eroda, it turns out, was the setting for the music video of his second single ‘Adore You’. With a publicity stunt as wonderful as this, one could only be intrigued by his new album.
The opening song, ‘Golden’, sounds exactly like its title suggests: it is a warm and joyous opener in which he details his feelings towards a lover, and it feels as if it would be comfortable on a new One Direction album. ‘Watermelon Sugar’ and ‘Adore You’ follow and continue this summer vibe, one which is very much needed in these cold and dark winter months.
After ‘Lights Up’, the album turns, and begins to detail a devastating breakup. ‘Cherry’ is full of longing for a former flame who has since moved on, begging her to not “call him baby / don’t you call him what you used to call me”. The song ends with a recording of his ex, Camille Rowe, speaking to someone in French, and this is reminiscent of the voice clip played at the beginning of ‘Woman’ on his debut album. Styles revealed he wrote parts of the album whilst on mushrooms, and this is clear in the six minute long ‘She’, with its psychedelic and 1970’s-like production.
The album is a journey, and we travel with Styles through his relationship: at the beginning of the album, he begs his lover to “just let me adore you” and, by the end, he begs her not to “call me baby again”. But we also are privy to his personal journey, beyond his relationship. In ‘Light’s Up’, Styles repeatedly asks if “you know who you are?”, but by ‘Falling’ it is he who doesn’t know the answer, as now he asks “what am I now?” and is scared he is “someone I don’t want around”.
Before the album’s release, Styles described it as being “all about sex and feeling sad” and it certainly is a perfect breakup album. But as it ends, it does not feel so hopeless. The penultimate song inspires people to ‘Treat People With Kindness’, a message which has been at the heart of the promotion for the album. He ends the final song, ‘Fine Line’, by telling us that “we’ll be alright” and, despite it all, I really think we will.
[Eleanor Fletcher – she/her – @eleanorlf_]
[Photo credit: press]