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Harry Styles - Fine Line (Album Review)

Thursday, 19 December 2019 Written by Huw Baines

That Harry Styles chose genteel pop-rock as his mode of solo expression remains an intriguing, surprising turn of events. After the mannered, occasionally beige, opening statement made by his self-titled debut back in 2017, ‘Fine Line’ is tasked with adding depth and nuance beyond his expressive voice and devilish good looks.

From his pose on its sleeve—which has more than a little of mid-'70s Mick Jagger to it—through to its open relationship with classic rock tropes, the record gives Styles plenty to get his teeth into. Over a lead guitar line siphoned off from George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord, he convincingly sets things in motion with Golden, a track so breezy and composed that it might as well have been thrown from a convertible hugging the California coastline.

The ensuing Watermelon Sugar, meanwhile, is equally strong. Styles sells its cooing come ons with a lithe, expressive performance, and by the time its brass-led outro hits he’s managed to redraft its cod-funk origins as something fun and exciting.

The lead single Lights Up also has a few melodic feints up its sleeve that help it to swerve around what is essentially an elevator music core.

The record’s strengths and weaknesses are subsequently laid bare with the one-two of She and Sunflower, Vol.6. The former is an overwrought ballad that descends into a wholehearted, wholly unnecessary, wig out over six long minutes, while the latter is an effortlessly charming pop song that allows Styles to show off his range. She, one suspects, is a serious artistic statement. Sunflower is a bit of fun. But it’s by far the more cogent, satisfying work.

After two solid, unfailingly competent outings it’s clear that Styles is no rock dilettante. His music is ambitious and, while it’s not fully formed, he is already pushing hard at the boundaries that surround ex-boyband stars. ‘Fine Line’ is exhilarating and frustrating in equal measure, but the smart money is on that balance shifting in Styles’s favour before too long.

Harry Styles Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed April 15 2020 - BIRMINGHAM Arena
Fri April 17 2020 - SHEFFIELD FlyDSA Arena
Sun April 19 2020 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Wed April 22 2020 - LONDON O2 Arena
Thu April 23 2020 - LONDON O2 Arena
Sat April 25 2020 - MANCHESTER Arena
Sun April 26 2020 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro

Click here to compare & buy Harry Styles Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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