In his post-One Direction career, Harry Styles has sought to prove he is so much more than just a former TV talent show winner. He’s swapped cutesy pop smashes for more mature pop-rock, he’s been talking about shagging in interviews, and buddied up to rock icons Fleetwood Mac.
The video for ‘Adore You’, the latest track to be taken from his upcoming second album ‘Fine Line’, puts distance between the two eras of Styles in the weirdest way yet. Rather than your traditional three-minute music video, the musician presents us with something more like a short film – one that would be super indie and arty, and sees him befriending a fish.
The premise, as narrator Rosalía tells us, is this – young Harry is born on an island called Eroda that’s “shaped like a frown”. No one there smiles, and the inhabitants follow strange superstitions like never leaving the island on an odd-numbered date. But Harry is different. He’s blessed with a smile so bright it blinds his fellow islanders and makes things – haircuts, the efficiency of umbrellas – go very wrong. The island folk don’t really like this so he lives a life of loneliness that pushes him to stuff his jacket pockets with rocks and start wading into the ocean.
Luckily for us and for Harry, a shiny little fish flapping about on a rock catches his eye and, when it refuses to stay in the water, it becomes his purpose and his friend. They go walking around Eroda together, the fish in a perspex kettle, a transparent backpack, and, once it’s grown too big to be carried around by its human pal, in a tank fixed to wagon wheels. They eat tacos on top of a hill. At one point, so deep is their bond, Harry tastes some fish food, regrets it, but then still sings to the creature about how he’d “walk through fire for you”.
Maybe it’s all intended to just be a strange little film to get people talking ahead of the release of ‘Fine Line’ next week (December 13), but maybe there’s more to it than that. You could also read it as a metaphor for putting your differences with the people around you aside and placing importance on community and being there for each other. At the end, Harry is finally accepted by his neighbours as they help him return the fish to the sea, where tons of its particular species have also appeared, as if to rescue it from its own life of isolation. When so much of the world is so toxic, and especially with an incredibly tense election campaign rumbling on and dividing the country, it’s a touching message that we could benefit from unpacking.