After what’s been a fairly lacklustre Q4 for decent album releases, one of the final albums of 2019 has gone and stolen the spotlight.
Harry Styles’ sophomore long player ‘Fine Line’ is about as good as it can get for an authentic, charismatic and catchy album.
Now I for one never thought that any of the boys out of One Direction would do much more than some standard run-of-the-mill songs. Some of them have proven that theory right.
But Harry isn’t one of them. His debut solo album pitched him as the eccentric and slightly left-of-field musician. This album harnesses that in a refined and polished way that avoids feeling contrived.
From the opening background vocals and the arrangement of ‘Golden’, you can tell someone has paid close attention to each and every layer of the songs here. The harmonies on the “da-da-das” that open the song, sound magical together.
When I pressed play on the album, I never expected to be so captured from less than 30 seconds in – and he holds your attention across the body of work.
Whizzing through teaser tracks and singles from the campaign, you’re taken on a tour of love and hope and insight. It’s not in-your-face pop music, but its subtlety is where it shines. Harry is both shy and outgoing, so this balance is played out nicely with the songs included here.
Half way through, you’re hit in the face with a ballad so raw and beautiful you can’t help but pay attention. I had it blasting on my way into the petrol station the other day and a younger girl came up and asked what song I was playing. She was as shocked as I was that it was Harry Styles. She was straight onto her phone to save it.
And this is where he’s done such an incredible job to move away from being connected to something else or something quite big. He has broad appeal.
Songs like ‘Fine Line’ and ‘Cherry’ are familiar yet refreshing – almost like ‘Watermelon Sugar’.
The story he tells us is one we can all connect to and is really a beautiful manifestation of Harry as an artist.
It’s been hard to turn off ‘Fine Line’ and get into the festive spirit If I’m honest, but there’s something truly engaging with this album.
Perhaps it’s the time of year, with introspection rife in my thoughts or maybe he’s just created something unique that makes you pay attention.
Either way, this album is a success in every way possible.
VERDICT : 5/5.
MUST LISTEN : Golden, Adore You, Falling.