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Fine Line is Harry Styles' second studio album which was released on December 13, 2019 by Columbia Records & Erskine Records.

The album debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart and number one on the Billboard 200, making it Styles' second consecutive number-one album in the US. It had the third-largest sales week of 2019 in the US and broke the record as the biggest debut from a British male artist since Nielsen SoundScan began.

It was also the last number one album of the 2010s and also the first number one album on the Billboard 200 in the 2020s.

Album BackgroundEdit

In an interview with Rolling Stone released on August 26, 2019, it was reported that Harry Styles 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, he revealed that 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 and Joni Mitchell, the latter's 1971 album, "Blue" and its use of the dulcimer, particularly influenced the albums 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 albums recording. He acknowledged using psychedelic drugs during the recording process.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Golden 3:28
  2. Watermelon Sugar 2:54
  3. Adore You 3:27
  4. Lights Up 2:52
  5. Cherry 4:19
  6. Falling 4:00
  7. To Be So Lonely 3:12
  8. She 6:02
  9. Sunflower, Vol. 6 3:41
  10. Canyon Moon 3:09
  11. Treat People With Kindness 3:17
  12. Fine Line 6:17

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Fine Line" debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with 478,000 album-equivalent units (of which 393,000 are pure sales) in the week ending December 19. It also marked the biggest week for a pop album by a male artist in over four years.

The album also achieved the largest sales week from a British male artist since Nielsen SoundScan began, and made him the first UK male artist to debut at number one with first two albums.

During its second week, the album remained at number one on the chart, selling an additional 89,000 album equivalent units consisting of 47,000 pure album sales, and becoming the first pop album to spend two weeks at number one since Ed Sheeran's album, "No.6 Collaborations Project" in August 2019.

According to Nielsen year-end report, "Fine Line" was the fifth-best selling album of the year in pure sales, with 458,000 copies—of which 354,000 were physical copies. In its third week, the album dropped to number four on the chart, earning 54,000 more units that week.

In its fourth week, the album climbed to number three on the chart, earning 54,000 more units.

On February 25, 2020, "Fine Line" was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for combined sales and album-equivalent units of over one million units in the United States.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Fine Line" was met with generally positive reviews. At Metacritic, the album has an average score of 76 out of 100, based on 20 reviews. Gregory Robinson, writing for The Guardian, regarded it 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."

Another writer from the magazine felt that "Styles is building a new type of rock canon—and a new brand of rock star."

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 the album 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 of the album, Jeremy D. Larson of Pitchfork described the "actual sound" of Fine Line as "incredible" as Styles's influences permeate the record, but considered his songwriting shallow and lacking in imagination.

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