Harry Styles’ Fine Line is a ray of sunshine in these dark days

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4.2

In the video for the third and final single, before the album’s release, Harry Styles is born onto an island where people don’t smile, where the sun doesn’t shine and the entire population lives in misery. Despite this island’s fictionality, it’s hard to believe it isn’t based on reality; even before the election result, this was symbolic of Britain. It’s dark and gloomy and depressing, it’s not a place you want to live in. You have to search for reasons to smile, because most things just leave you feeling glum. 

Harry Styles’ album isn’t going to save the world. Nothing can save the world, now—it’s spiralling towards its death with right-wing lunatics at the wheel. Climate deniers want to travel to the sun and build a massive hotel resort, only to trick the working class into visiting. They’re drunk on their port, tired after a long day hunting foxes and frustrated that Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t been captured and put down yet.

Friday 13th—a notorious day anyway, known for being unlucky—was miserable. On the tram travelling to work, there was an eerie silence. When I finally got to the office, it was equally as miserable. The radio was playing, but you couldn’t hear a thing.

Two things brought a smile to everyone’s faces, however. Firstly, someone had drawn Hitler moustaches onto Boris on the front cover of every newspaper in the kitchen—childish? Yes, but it’s the little things. Secondly, somebody turned the radio off and suggested putting an album on.

“Didn’t Harry Styles release a record today?” someone shouted from across the room. Ah, shit, he did, didn’t he. Not exactly going to change the world—or the election result—but at last, something positive to think about.

Fine Line is a loose canon. Where the self-titled debut maybe took itself too seriously—in attempt to move as far away from the pop sound that plagued his One Direction days and reinvent himself both aesthetically and musically—Fine Line shows a calmer, more confident side to an artist still carving out his path in the music world.

There are several slower, camp-fire numbers, but also plenty of out-and-out pop songs on there to get you moving. ‘Adore You’ takes inspiration from Mark Ronson’s work, ‘Treat People With Kindness’ could easily be slipped into a Broadway musical with the OTT chorus, ‘Sunflower, Vol. 6’ is a summery track that flirts (for some a little too closely) with Vampire Weekend’s latest stuff, while the story-telling swagger of ‘She’ is Styles still trying to show-off his inner Bowie. It’s sunny and warm, it makes you feel good. Sometimes, that’s all you need from a record.

It’s important, though, not to dismiss it as merely bubblegum pop, or a person whining about relationships over and over. There is an important message hidden in there. It’s a message Harry has preached since he went solo, embroidering it onto his merch, using the initials of the phrase in his marketing campaigns: ‘Treat People With Kindness’ is the one constant in Harry’s ever-changing, chameleon solo career. Whilst the sounds and the clothes change at the click of a finger, or the discovery of a new album from the archives of history, Monsieur Styles consistently reminds his fans to treat people with kindness. It’s a message that’s important to remember at a time where the leaders of our country—and the leader of the US—treat people like the dirt on the bottom of their Oxford brogues.

Though Fine Line is not a politically orientated punk album, it gives you a reason to smile, even in these darkest of days. It’s not going to fix anything, nor will it spark a mass protest, but it’ll make you feel a bit better. It’s a bit like that Calpol you desperately craved as a kid when you were a bit under the weather: you knew it did fuck all for your immune system, but damn did it taste good. It’s comfort music, plain and simple. So, when you’re ready to drown your sorrows in a humongous takeaway or a few litres of liquor, remember there’s a cheaper and healthier option to put a smile back on your face.

Listen to Fine Line on Spotify and Apple Music. Like this? Buy our magazine HERE, it’s where we keep the proper good stuff.

Haiku Review
Sonic Calpol: cure
Me of electoral grief.
Thank you, Harry Styles.