Former One Direction member gives us a peek into his mind with his debut solo album.
When Zayn Malik quit One Direction literally a year ago, it was as if the world stopped. Speculation about the future of the most popular boy band of the 2010s, along with rumors surrounding Zayn’s life post separation, ran rampant for weeks on end. If Zayn wanted to lead a normal life, his split from the band was his best bet.
Turns out, all he wanted to do was release some good music on his own terms.
The best part about Mind of Mine is that it sounds like the album Zayn has wanted to make for the longest. His output with One Direction is by no means terrible, but this new direction (no pun intended) influenced by The Weeknd, Miguel, Frank Ocean, and other R&B acts of the 2010s does Zayn pretty well in establishing his credibility not only as a pop star in the making, but also as a fledging R&B sex symbol. Lead singles “PILLOWTALK” and “iT’s YoU” definitely held me over prior to the album’s release. Cuts such as “dRuNk,” “tRuTh,” and “TiO” show me that he has staying power as a solo act, and that is ultimately more important.
All this being said, Mind of Mine isn’t perfect. Granted, Zayn does get close (seriously, the sequencing is surprisingly on point), but there are also times where the same influences that inspired this album take away from the personality. “lUcOzAdE” is the most glaring example where it sounds like a hodgepodge of R&B conventions. While I do appreciate the stream of consciousness vibe, it feels two minutes too long. The album clicks when he pulls from earlier influences like Maxwell (“BoRdErZ”) and when he takes a musical left turn and sings in Urdu (“INTERMISSION: fLoWer”). Those moments give Zayn a blueprint for the future while moments such as “lUcOzAde” prevent him from realizing his full potential.
As far as debut albums go, this one is definitely a win. Even if it was a brick, Zayn’s very first single debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100; he’s here to stay whether people like it or not. Thankfully with Mind of Mine, Zayn proves himself to be an artist who knows this is a marathon despite running strong out of the gate. That desire to release quality music shows his integrity and ambition, making me root for him as he grows as an artist.