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Background[edit | edit source]
In an interview with Rolling Stone released on 26 August 2019, it was reported that the singer was putting the "final touches" on his album which Styles explained was "all about having sex and feeling sad." 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.
Much of the album was inspired by Styles' split from model Camille Rowe. Following the couple's split, producer and writer Kid Harpoon encouraged Styles to deal with his emotions by writing about them. During the recording Styles was inspired by David Bowie, Van Morrison, Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell. The latter's album Blue (1971) and its use of the dulcimer, particularly influenced the album's musical style. Styles tracked down the woman who built the dulcimer used in Mitchell's album and requested lessons; she would go on to build Styles his own dulcimer which was used during the album's recording. Styles acknowledged using psychedelic drugs during the recording process.
Music and composition[edit | edit source]
Harry explained the concept of the album as: "It's all about having sex and feeling sad.". In a previous interview, Styles said he recorded his new album at Shangri-La, the famed Malibu studio of revered music producer Rick Rubin.
Psychedelics have started to play a key role in his creative process. "We’d do mushrooms, lie down on the grass, and listen to Paul McCartney’s Ram in the sunshine," he says. "We’d just turn the speakers into the yard." The chocolate edibles were kept in the studio fridge, right next to the blender. "You’d hear the blender going, and think, 'So we’re all having frozen margaritas at 10 a.m. this morning.'" He points to a corner: "This is where I was standing when we were doing mushrooms and I bit off the tip of my tongue. So I was trying to sing with all this blood gushing out of my mouth. So many fond memories, this place." 
Release and promotion[edit | edit source]
The album was released on 13 December 2019, by Columbia and Erskine, Styles's second to be released under the label. The standard edition was released on CD, vinyl, digital download and streaming. The deluxe edition of the album was released on CD on 13 December 2019. Shortly before release of the album's lead single "Lights Up", the album was promoted by billboards and the caption: "Do You Know Who You Are?" in several cities around the world. Marketing for a tourism agency in Eroda, the fictitious isle Styles' team came up with, began appearing on social media; as well as a website for the for the isle. Styles collaborated with Spotify to organize a fan-exclusive event held at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles for a private listening party, where fans were taken to experience Eroda, an elaborate theme created for his single "Adore You".
Styles promoted the album on the 16 November episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live as both a host and a musical guest. Leading up to the album's release, on 10 December, Styles also served as the guest host on The Late Late Show with James Corden. To celebrate the release and maximize sales of the album, Styles held a one-night-only show at The Forum in Los Angeles that coincided with the album's December 13 release. Styles allowed fans to pre-order his album and rewarded them with a code to have a chance to buy tickets to see him at his one-night-only show for only $25. The show in Los Angeles was followed by another show at the Electric Ballroom in London on 19 December with British rapper Stormzy as a special guest. The album will be promoted with Love On Tour.
Singles[edit | edit source]
- "Lights Up" was released as the lead single from the album on October 11, 2019. The music video was also released on October 11, 2019. The music video was directed by Vincent Haycock. 
- "Adore You" was released as the second single from the album on December 6, 2019 with the music video being released on the same day.
- "Falling" was announced as the third single from the album with the music video being released on February 28, 2020.
- "Watermelon Sugar" was released as the first promotional single on November 16, 2019 and re-released as the fourth single on May 15, 2020 with the music video being released on May 18, 2020.
- "Golden" wasn't defined as a single until October 2020. Then it was announced that Golden was officially the fifth single from the album with the music video being released at October 26, 2020.
Critical reception[edit | edit source]
Fine Line received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from professional critics, the album has an average score of 76 out of 100, based on 20 reviews.
Gregory Robinson, writing for The Guardian, regarded the album as "confident, convincing and catchy". Alexandra Pollard of The Independent stated that "it may not reach the pinnacle of sex or sadness, but Fine Line is a fine album nonetheless". Hannah Mylrea of NME found the album to be "a total joy", calling it "an elegant combination of the ex-boybander's influences, slick modern pop and his own roguish charm". Rea McNamara of NOW Magazine praised Styles' decision to lean towards "ebullient, soulful pop" while naming "Sunflower, Vol. 6" as the album's best track. Writing for Rolling Stone, Nick Catucci deemed the album "excellent" and felt that "if there’s a nontoxic masculinity, Harry Styles just might’ve found it". David Smyth of The Evening Standard remarked that while Styles' music can not "live up to the sparkling imagery of his press profiles", his second album makes "a strong argument for being the most interesting boy band escapee yet".
Jon Pareles of The New York Times described the production as a "tour-de-force" and complimented how "Styles exults in sound, not image". Chris Willman of Variety commented that, contrary to Style's description of the record, the sensuality and melancholy are "a little on the muted side", while Styles is "still stuck" in the classic rock era that he "casually [claims] as his own". Bryan Rolli of Consequence of Sound called Fine Line an "airy, melancholy album that diplomatically addresses heartache while declining to wallow in it", complimenting his more honest songwriting but lamenting the lack of energy in his vocal performance. The Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick characterized the album as "charming but inconsequential", while Mark Richardson of The Wall Street Journal described it as "earnest, forthright and delivered with polish", but "more imitative than original" and offering "no fresh perspective". In a mixed review, Jeremy D. Larson of Pitchfork described the "actual sound" of Fine Line as "incredible" as Styles' influences permeate the record, but considered his songwriting shallow and lacking in imagination.
Track List[edit | edit source]
|1.||"Golden"||Harry Styles, Mitch Rowland, Kid Harpoon, Tyler Johnson||Johnson, Kid Harpoon||3:28|
|2.||"Watermelon Sugar"||Styles, Johnson, Kid Harpoon, Rowland||Johnson, Kid Harpoon||2:53|
|3.||"Adore You"||Styles, Amy Allen, Kid Harpoon, Johnson||Johnson, Kid Harpoon||3:27|
|4.||"Lights Up"||Styles, Kid Harpoon, Johnson||Johnson, Kid Harpoon||2:52|
|5.||"Cherry"||Styles, Johnson, Sammy Witte, Kid Harpoon, Jeff Bhasker||Johnson, Kid Harpoon, Bhasker, Witte||4:19|
|6.||"Falling"||Styles, Kid Harpoon||Kid Harpoon||4:00|
|7.||"To Be So Lonely"||Styles, Rowland, Kid Harpoon, Johnson||Johnson, Kid Harpoon||3:12|
|8.||"She"||Styles, Rowland, Kid Harpoon, Bhasker||Kid Harpoon, Bhasker||6:02|
|9.||"Sunflower, Vol.6"||Styles, Greg Kurstin, Kid Harpoon||Kurstin, Kid Harpoon||3:41|
|10.||"Canyon Moon"||Styles, Kid Harpoon, Rowland||Kid Harpoon||3:09|
|11.||"Treat People With Kindness"||Styles, Ilsey Juber, Bhasker||Bhasker||3:17|
|12.||"Fine Line"||Styles, Rowland, Kid Harpoon, Johnson, Witte||Johnson, Kid Harpoon, Witte||6:17|
References[edit | edit source]
- rollingstone.com - Recording and composition of the album
- imdb.com - Music Video Director