Jamie Browder

I would just like to preface this with that I did not fully love “Fine Line” when it came out, but over a month since its release, each track has grown on me in varying ways. I’ve come to a very solid conclusion that I absolutely love this album.  

The title track itself, “Fine Line,” leaves a little to be desired as far as excitement, but I think it bridges the gap between the more upbeat songs such as “Sunflower vol. 6” and “Falling.” 

The album begins beautifully, with a song I could only describe as having a very mysterious and Fleetwood Mac vibe. “Golden” is the perfect, fall in love with me and visit a fortune-teller, while waiting to find out if our love will last kind of song.  

Artistically, I think he took a lot of risks trying to make this album sound different from other mainstream music. To some, it might make the tracks seem weird or undesirable, but the unique quality of each song just adds to the authenticity of the album as a whole.  

“To Be So Lonely,” with its wavering chords and rising and falling vocal notes gives it a very dreamy tone. Styles did a great job experimenting with different string instruments within this album, and in particular, this song. 

I don’t think, based on the tracks that were released as singles, we could have guessed how sad and slow some parts of the album truly were going to be.  

I tend to like songs that are a little more upbeat, but the way the album dips into despair is really satisfying. “Falling” is the perfect heartbreak song, and it makes me want to lie in the rain. It just hurts so good.  

Certain parts of the album could be considered ‘boring’ or slow, but I think that’s the perfect opportunity to see where the lyrics are lacking. He makes up for it with beautiful composition. I cannot express how well I believe he utilized such a wide variety of instruments and sounds to craft this album.  

“Watermelon Sugar” makes me so happy. I don’t know how Styles knew we all deserved a little bit of serotonin that this song is sure to bring. It just makes me crave a July sunset.  

The only song I dislike more than the others is “Treat People with Kindness.” My biggest complaint is that the chorus felt like such a cop out because it feels too simple. He could have used vocals that would complement the rest of the song much better.  

I really like Harry Styles, and often when I see videos of him performing, I am stunned because it feels like our generation is getting to see what would be defined in our era as a legend. He’s a great performer, and the vocals on this album do not lack.  

The entire album just makes me feel like the sun is hitting my face. Styles is someone who is still trying to earn his spot on his own in the music industry, and is doing such a good job developing his own unique sound.  

What I like about this album is that each track is distinctive and feel like something only he could make. With its strange and happy vibes to its deep and depressing lyrics, it very much defines what I like to see artists doing when they are creating their own sound.  

Ariel Hall:

When One Direction was in its prime, I knew it was going to be Harry Styles that went solo. He’s got the looks and charm that a grade-A boy band needs for a front man. But is he a good soloist? Debatable. His self-titled debut album came out in 2016 and since then, Styles has built a strong fan base. When “Fine Line” was released, I went in with an open mind, but in the end, I wasn’t impressed.  

While I think that Harry Styles is a talented performer, I don’t think this album did as well with showing off his talents as it could have. Many of the tracks seemed unbalanced, with either too heavy vocals or tracks like “To Be So Lonely” that drown out his voice with instruments. 

The first track “Golden” was filled with background vocals and repetitive lyrics that made me think that people only like this album because it’s Harry Styles. If this were any other performer, many would think that there’s nothing particularly special about this album since it feels like every other pop album. Rather than making a statement like a good album should, it’s the charm of Harry Styles that got this album on the top of the charts. 

Though there are upbeat summer songs like “Watermelon Sugar” and “Adore You,” going from track to track felt like I was listening to the same overproduced song. One of the biggest problems I had with this album was the inconsistency. Either the songs sounded the same, or they sounded like someone different altogether. “Cherry” and “Canyon Moon” sounded like a folksy indie singer, very much different than the same singer that busted out “Kiwi.” 

The songs on “Fine Line” are incredibly catchy with the almost formulaic product, but I think this album missed the mark. While I think that he’s exactly the kind of artist that belongs on stage in front of a bunch of screaming teenage girls, Overall, it tries too hard to be different to the point where it feels like someone threw something at the wall and hoped it stuck. 

It makes me sad that pop artists now are so considered with getting to the top of the charts that they are throwing songs together. There’s no story element to this album, or at least not a clear one, and I think that Harry Styles could’ve done something so interesting while still continuing to have a more niche sound.  

One of the only songs I enjoyed on this album was “Falling.” With the melody and melancholic lyrics about heartbreak, this song seems much more authentic and less like the commercialized synth pop that made up the rest of the album. The only other song I liked was the last song and title track “Fine Line,” which I think wrapped up the album in a neat bow. 

In the end, listening to this album was an exhausting haul through a fog. “Fine Line” felt more like a thirty-minute-long song than a collection of songs, with some that are totally forgettable like “She” and “Sunflower Vol. 6.” At the end of the day, there’s no song from “Fine Line” that I would save to my playlist and this is an album I’d rather leave behind.  

Rebuttal

Jamie:

Harry always seems to push boundaries when it comes to his own sound.  

The repetitiveness of “Golden” is what gives it that dream-like state, like waves hitting you over and over. This track sways, in my mind, the same way a Fleetwood Mac song does. With wavering chords and crooning vocals, it really just pulls me in.  

I do not believe that it is his charm that makes people like this album so much. Do I think it helps? Yes, however, I am not a follower of Harry, nor was I ever a One Direction fan. If I heard this album without knowing who he is at all, I think the messages and the overall feel of the music would hit just the same. To say that some might only like it because his recognizability seems unfair, and down-grades his true talent.  

 
The variety of the album, as Ariel mentioned is how some songs just seem like they came from different artists, and I think is what gives it its charm. Not every song sounds the same, which I’m glad for. Each one has its own distinct sound, but as I said previously, it also seems as if all of the songs blend together perfectly. 

 
It’s easy to get stuck on the content of one track or even misunderstand an album if you listen to it on shuffle. I don’t think this is one of those albums where you can necessarily pick and choose certain songs. It needs to be enjoyed in its entirety.  

It’s important when taking a step back to see the entire album, as a work of art that ebbs and flows from one feeling to the next. 

Ariel:

With all of that being said, I still recognize why people love this album. It’s a new take on the kind of music we’re used to listening to on the Top 40. Though I am not the biggest fan of this album, I still applaud Harry Styles for trying something new, something that I’ve never seen before.  

He took a lot of risks on this album and that’s what I think that people love the sound so much; every track comes with a new story, a new flavor. While the tracks seemed unbalanced, the music was incredibly produced with the eccentric vibes throughout. Harry Styles is making his own mark on pop music and I commend him for having such a wide variety. No matter what kind of music you’re into, you’re bound to find at least one track that you like. 

While I disagree with Jamie’s opinions on the album, I think we can both agree that Harry Styles is starting to do something in pop music. He really pulls you into a world, though chaotic at times, and that is what makes him so cool and enjoyable to his fans.  

And what’s to say that this album doesn’t eventually grow on me? Despite all that I disliked, I still think that the beats have a good flow and the songs are undeniably catchy and the more I listen to the album, the more I get it all. I have no doubts that Harry Styles will continue to thrive a solo artist and performer, and maybe one day, I might even change my mind about what he has to say.