Nearly two years after the release of his self-titled debut album, Harry Styles has released Fine Line — an album where he experiments with his sound through an array of songs mostly centering around reminiscing over lost love. The former One Direction star has been romantically involved with his fair share of famous women throughout his time in the spotlight, and other songs from the singer’s newly released second album can lead fans into a guessing game as to where the inspiration arose. With the final minute of the song featuring a voice recording of Styles’ ex-girlfriend Camille Rowe melodically cooing in French over the strumming chords of an acoustic guitar, however, “Cherry” leaves no room for speculation.
In contrast to the primarily classic rock / indie alternative feel of his first album, Styles branches out and experiments with his sound a bit more throughout the duration of Fine Line with the upbeat, folky guitar of “Canyon Moon”, the psychedelic 70s vibe of “Treat People With Kindness”, and the album’s title track being sung entirely in falsetto. With that being said, “Cherry” is one of the few songs in the mix that sticks closely to what most fans have come to expect from Styles’ solo work, and would fit seamlessly within the track list of his debut album had it been released alongside songs like “Two Ghosts” and “Sweet Creature”.
“Cherry” opens up with the whisper of Rowe’s voice before sliding into a stripped down track consisting of not much more than an acoustic guitar and the soft vocals of Styles throughout the first half. It isn’t until the second chorus that we’re introduced to a drum beat and a bass-line, and that is just shortly before both the music and vocals crescendo for a fleeting moment.
With its stripped down acoustics, soft and level vocals, and verse lines such as “I can tell that you are at your best. I’m selfish so I’m hating it,” and “I just miss your accent and your friends,” this track embodies the heartbreak and loneliness that comes along with exiting a long-term relationship.
What aids in setting it apart from the plethora of heartbreak songs that we have heard in pop music before, however, is the aforementioned final minute. While prototypical breakup songs are often thinly veiled in a particular air of mystery as to who the artist is actually crooning about, “Cherry” explicitly reveals this to its listeners without any inclusion in the actual lyrics.
For an artist like Styles, who has quite a few famous exes to choose from, this allows the audience to see his pain through a more narrow and specific scope, and eliminates the fan speculation of “I wonder who he’s talking about?” in order to allow the listener to simply experience the raw emotion being put forth through the track.