One Direction might be over, but Harry Styles isn’t. 25-year-old Styles is on the up-and-up with his second solo album, Fine Line.
Fused with all things 70’s, this album is a combination of pop, rock and funk and it listens like a cross between the Beatles and Bon Iver. Weird, right? Well, you’d understand if you had a listen. It’s nothing like One Direction at all, not in sound or theme.
Because while there are positives here about introspection, loving other and enjoying life, there are also some solid warning signs. Harry dips frequently into songs about drunken nights, drug use, infidelity and casual sex.
In “Golden,” Harry thinks about a woman who holds a special place in his heart but is scared to fall in love: “You’re so golden/I’m out of my head, and I know that you’re scared/Because hearts get broken.” Similar sentiments are heard in “Adore You.”
As Harry reflects on his past decisions, he realizes that he’s become someone he doesn’t like: “What Am I now? What am I now?/What if I’m someone I don’t want to be around.”
“Cherry” finds Harry recovering from heartbreak (“I just miss your accent and your friends/Did you know I still talk to them?”).
Harry is homesick in “Canyon Moon” (“Staring at the ceiling, two weeks and I’ll be home/Carry the feeling, through Paris, all through Rome/And I’m still thinking back to the time under the Canyon Moon”).
“Treat People With Kindness” urges people to love one another, love life and practice forgiveness: “Giving second chances/I don’t need all the answers/Feeling good in my skin/I just keep on dancin’”).
“Watermelon Sugar” might sound like a fun summer song, but it’s actually a tune that focuses on oral sex: “I just wanna taste it, I just wanna taste it/Watermelon sugar high.” And “Fine Line” finds Harry dreaming of getting into bed with a woman: “You sunshine, you temptress/…Speading you open/Is the only way of knowing you.” Similar allusions to sex are heard on “She” and “Sunflower, Vol. 6” (“Let me inside, I wanna get to know you”).
And when Harry’s not openly talking about sex, he’s throwing out sensual lyrics on “Golden” and “Adore You” (“Brown skin and lemon over ice”).
Harry confesses to infidelity and drunken nights on “Falling”: “And you’re not here/And there’s no one to blame but the drink and my wandering hands.” And on “To Be So Lonely” Harry profanely admits some personal faults that led to the end of a relationship: “You can’t blame me, darling/Not even a little bit, I was away/And I’m just an arrogant son of a b–ch/Who can’t admit when he’s sorry.”
“Lights Up” features allusions to drug use: “Shine, step into the light/Shine, so bright sometimes/…Never coming back down/Can’t you see?”
It can be a bit jarring for fans when a boy band like One Direction breaks up and each member goes about their business. And even though One Direction’s split was years ago, it’s still fascinating to see the way each artist has come into their own.
Especially someone like Harry Styles. If you’ve seen any of his videos lately, or listened to any of his songs, you’ll quickly realize that bliss and sexual ambiguity are playing a large role in who he is today.
In an interview with The Guardian, Harry gets into a bit of all of this and talks about how it has influenced the tone for Fine Line: “I think it’s a very free, and freeing, time. I think people are asking, ‘Why not?’ a lot more. Which excites me. It’s not just clothes where lines have been blurred, it’s going across so many things. I think you can relate it to music, and how genres are blurring…”
And while there’s plenty of “blurring” going on in this album, there are still some definitive takeaways, both positive and negative. First, Harry’s not afraid to admit fault while learning to love life and those around him. Which is great. But as he dives deeper into the album, listeners should be aware that oral sex, casual sex, drug use and intoxication all play a heavy role in this latest work.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).