“It’s all about having sex and feeling sad.” That’s how Harry Styles described his new album Fine Line in a worshipful Rolling Stone profile that kicked off the rollout. In the profile, the former One Direction member dons a floppy white hat and yellow purse, cruises LA in cars including a Tesla and a 1972 silver Jaguar E-type, blasts various yacht-rock classics and “Old Town Road,” describes his trip to a “cold sauna,” chases a smoothie with a “pepper-intensive wheatgrass shot” reporter Rob Sheffield compares to battery acid, and sings the praises of having male friends who let each other be emotionally vulnerable. Remember when Matty Healy sang about “a millennial that baby boomers like”? That’s Styles. He seems to have walked straight out of a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, or the series finale of Mad Men.
Fine Line is the musical manifestation of that evolved hippie-yuppie persona. Building on the classic rock, soft-rock, and alt-country stylings of his self-titled debut, the new LP is an attempt to present retro-infatuated easy listening fare as a kaleidoscopic adventure through myriad feelings and sensations. There are songs called “Sunflower, Vol. 6″ and “Canyon Moon” and “Watermelon Sugar” and “Treat People With Kindness.” There is a video in which a shirtless Styles dances amidst countless women and another in which he plays the only smiling person on a mystical island where everyone who frowns, who brings everyone together by caring for and freeing a giant fish. There was a late-night TV performance where he dressed like Austin Powers, but not as a joke. His shtick is well-developed.
The songs? Well, I guess you can decide about the songs for yourself. Fine Line is available to stream below.
Fine Line is out now on Columbia.