“Fine Line” stands as Harry Styles’ second album, along with being the title of one of its singles. Released in 2019, it marked Styles’ return to the music scene after One Direction’s hiatus that began in 2015. Chart Masters, an authority on music sales and streaming data, has reported that “Fine Line” is Styles’ highest-selling album to date. Notably, the single “Watermelon Sugar” from this album became his first-ever No. 1 single according to Billboard, achieving immense popularity.
In interviews about the album, Styles shared with Music Week that he intentionally aimed for a brighter and more cheerful musical tone with “Fine Line” compared to his self-titled debut album. He acknowledged a subconscious apprehension towards creating fun music after his time in the band and worked to overcome it. Although the album indeed featured a collection of lighter tracks, there were also moments of deeper emotional intensity, exemplified by the titular track, “Fine Line.”
The lyrics of “Fine Line” appear to encapsulate the conflicting emotions and experiences within a romantic relationship. Styles expresses a sense of devotion intertwined with moments of frustration and discord, suggesting complexities in the connection. There’s a hint of emotional detachment as he admits to thoughts of someone else when under the influence. The chorus, “We’ll be a fine line,” echoes this juxtaposition of highs and lows.
Stylistically, “Fine Line” is described as having an “eccentric” sound, a characterization that Styles concurred with. He shared his desire to infuse the song with a grand, epic outro and expressed a love for incorporating string and horn instruments into his music.
Contrary to speculation, “Fine Line” doesn’t appear to directly relate to Styles’ ex-girlfriend, Camille Rowe. While another track on the album, “Cherry,” was inspired by Rowe, there’s no evident connection between her and “Fine Line.”
Despite not achieving the same level of commercial success as some other tracks from the album, “Fine Line” holds a special place in Harry Styles’ heart. In an NPR interview, he revealed that it’s one of his two favorite songs on the album, alongside “Cherry.” Styles shared that the songwriting process for “Fine Line” began during a break from his first tour in January 2018. It evolved from a simple strumming session with his friend Tom into a six-minute masterpiece layered with vocals.
Styles expressed his deep attachment to the song, confessing that it’s one he’s always wanted to create. He was so enamored with it that he named the entire album after it, emphasizing its significance in his musical journey.