Harry Styles - Fine Line
Harry Styles wants to be David Bowie. I don't think that is a bold statement and likely one the British singer would agree with. Every step since leaving one direction has felt Bowie-esque. Cross Dressing at the Met Gala, releasing a more emotional rock and roll heavy album and now trying to combine the experimental with pop. For Bowie all these things flowed from him naturally, he was a nearly perfect portrait of the unconstrained artist. Things that came from Bowie felt imbued with his personality and you felt like you knew the man more intimately through his work than through real interactions. Harry Styles wants that, but He doesn't know how to get it. What He ends up with is fumbly songwriting, forced rock vibes and an altogether confusing aesthetic. "Watermelon Sugar" is such a British pop song it's almost painful. You could hear the Beatles singing it in the 60s and it wouldn't make you skip a beat. "Lights Up" feels too much like a throwback to One Direction, without the boyhood intrigue of the whole thing. I think what is the most challenging thing about this record is the idea that you "should" like it. He's being experimental, He's trying new things, why isn't the world completely on board? Well, because this feels forced, contrived by a record company to keep Harry Styles relevant. The "singer-songwriter" tracks like "Cherry" are probably the worst. On his last album He wanted you to see him as a rock god, but now He is the sensitive singer songwriter, personality changes like the damn breeze.
The reason is because there actually isn't anything behind these songs. Whomever wrote them never finds the connection to the music and Styles is not able to do it by sheer force of personality. David Bowie was able to do both. I think we have yet to see who Harry Styles really is as each new record appears to peel back another layer. However what we find isn't all that interesting. I mean in which years can we say Harry Styles actually had some kind of strife in his life? He was in one of the biggest boy bands in the world by the time He was a teen a position that is alien to about 99.999% of the world. "She" has this 60s inspired psychedelic guitar solo, but it just seems so out of place. Is Harry part of a jam band now? It's hard to tell and I think it's even hard for Harry himself stumbling trying to recapture former successes while still hoping to portray himself as this woke ARTist. None of it works though and what we are left with is this missmash of oldies masquerading as new sort of like Harry Styles' whole persona. Go figure.
5.3 out of 10