Harry Styles inches closer to delivering a truly great rock album
With his debut self-titled album from 2017, Harry Styles made it evident that he was fully abandoning his sugary teen-pop image from his One Direction days. As the star of his own show, the British singer-songwriter opted for a sound rooted in classic rock, a genre that is increasingly waning in popularity.
On Fine Line, it seems like his personality as a solo artist is developing even more. Songs like “She” and “To Be So Lonely” offer a different perspective from Styles that would make you jump at the thought that this man was the frontman of the band that made “What Makes You Beautiful.”
The singles are, without a doubt, attempts at cracking Billboard’s Top 40, but they are nothing if not entirely pleasant and fun, especially the trumpet-filled “Watermelon Sugar.” The song is sequenced perfectly as its follow-up “Adore You” is another potential chart-topper.
Styles falters, though, in his attempts to make folk songs. “Cherry” is a slow-paced generic tune that features the same guitar strings that could be found on a Mumford & Sons track (and no, that’s not a compliment). The song’s progression is uneventful and the songwriting is lacklustre, two essential elements when crafting a track like this.
“Falling” is a powerful ballad that never quite reaches the highs of “Sign of the Times” from Styles’ self-titled project, but manages to capture the raw emotion conveyed through his strong voice.
Despite being sold as a rock album, Fine Line often finds itself jumping around from subgenre to subgenre, and that lack of sonic cohesiveness is often what makes the record so disjointed at times. It never quite figures out what it wants to be, and while that doesn’t necessarily ruin the quality of its strongest songs, it makes the album sound like a loosely compiled amalgamation of tracks, rather than a streamlined body of work.
Trial Track: Watermelon Sugar