Looking back at my embarrassing Directioner days, I guess we both grew up. Fine Line sustained my attention and I listened to the entirety of this album chronologically, unlike your first self-titled album which I only sadly heard “Sign of The Times”, “Kiwi”, “Carolina” and “Sweet Creature”. For some of my friends, Fine Line feels a little blander compared to Harry Styles. But the consensus was this: People out there still absolutely “Adore You” and “Watermelon Sugar” was wonderful; the song truly sounded like its own lyrics: the song “tastes like strawberries on a summer evenin’”.
The way you delivered this album with your vibrant dressing, those colourful nails and your fruit metaphors scream something close to liberation, and seeing that has been absolutely freeing for me. Your style and sound have clearly evolved. Now, I know you told Rolling Stone that this album is “all about having sex and feeling sad”. But I beg to differ. I think this album is slightly more than that. While it definitely has mass appeal, it is unapologetically about experiences you call your own and we are (always) fascinated with your narrative.
I loved “She” because it speaks of the ideal woman conjured in a man’s dream (“She lives in daydreams with me”) yet your odd specific details project the frustration of attaining an unrequited love. “Cherry” would be something I pick for my go-to playlist. It’s so clever, yet bitterness could still be squeezed out from the song. The pettiness is not something to be proud of, but you should be proud of this song. It is my personal favourite because we don’t usually want to admit that we are sad, but you do so anyway — and there is a lot to admire about that.
A grown-up, of sorts