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Fine Line: One Year Album Review & it’s Effects on Music

Even before his second studio album, Harry Styles was a household name and icon from his time 

in One Direction, but as his album fastly approaches its one year anniversary, it’s time to look into how Fine Line not only transformed our image of the coveted artist but music as we know it. Released on 13 December 2019 by Columbia and Erskine Records, the album’s themes involve the initial excitement of meeting someone, break ups, and “having sex and feeling sad”, as Styles has said himself. In one way or another, we all have felt the emotions Styles is describing, whether it be through the melancholic tones of “Falling” or the hopeful lyrics of “Adore You” giving us butterflies, Harry allows us to feel like he’s not only singing to the vision in his head, but to us as fans and individuals. The record has been described as pop rock, with elements of prog-pop, psychedelic pop, folk, soul, funk and indie pop, and the influence of David Bowie, Van Morrsion, Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell can be seen in the variety of genres he experimented with as well as his stylistic choices. This multi-faceted approach of experimenting with emotions and stylistic choices were popularized by artists and bands such as The Beatles, Prince and David Bowie, and in an era where we are reusing the fashion and the overall sentiment about what life can be, allows us to reimage a much simpler time, similar to Harry Styles is attempting to do as he revisits his previous relationship. The album was also described to contain his “toughest, most soulful songs he’s written yet.” On the direction of his second album, Styles revealed he wanted to be more fun and adventurous compared to his self-titled debut album. Whether or not he achieved this conquest is something we can only hypothesize, however, Styles has found a beautiful overlap between imagination and visual commentary in a way we have not seen from him before. A clear example of this is seen is his intricate “Adore You’ music video – in which he created the elaborate world of Edora, and the story addresses the hallucinating emotions of meeting and connecting with on a deeper level, and the video itself mirrors this theme with the confusing feelings of being affected by others, even through the curiosity of their mere smile. The last 3-5 years have seen a resurgence of emotions and fashion that is parallel to that of the 1970s and 1980s, specifically in the social commentary and sexual liberations we all attempt to live by; music is no exception to that. In a world of nostalgic nature, Harry helps us look into ourselves, and potentially feel things we might be scared of, and maybe even answer questions we didn’t know we were asking ourselves. It’s safe to say that 2020 is looking very different to what we thought life could be; this album presents itself as a breath of fresh air. An underlying learning curve we’re all emerging into is the fact that the only real job we all have is to be unconditionally ourselves, and we had the opportunity to join Harry as we see a more realistic portrayal of. The beautiful thing about Harry Styles and the entire solo careers of the members of One Direction, is that they’ve always been genuine, but now we’re opened to more authentic versions of them. As mentioned before, music is a very healthy form of escapism, and the feeling of euphoria and hope we experience with Fine Line emulates the feeling of being swallowed in a blanket of music, and reminds us not only to look beyond, but look within. 

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