There’s a new bad boy in town. After saying “See you later” to One Direction, Zayn Malik shed his good-boy heartthrob image (which basically means taking his shirt off and getting some tattoos on there) and adopted a much more mature and sensual sound. His first album, Mind Of Mine, is a huge departure from the sound he would otherwise be associated with, but it feels like he tries too hard to escape that image.
The album kicks off with the obnoxiously stylized ’MiNd Of MiNdd’ (I’m not even going to bother trying to stylize every song I mention - it’s way overboard and edgy) that just makes you feel like you’re missing something. It’s cool and atmospheric, but it just doesn’t build up to anything. The first full song on the album is probably the best one; the single that blew up, ‘Pillowtalk’. It’s a very chill song, and it combines every element of sensuality and musicality exhibited in this album, and the background even has some pretty nice guitar work. The slide into the chorus is epic and can’t be unheard after you hear it. The following track, ‘It’s You’ continues with the instrumental intrigue, with a pretty nice one backing Zayn’s falsetto vocals with piano and some sweet strings at the end. Unfortunately, this is where the album introduces its weak point: trying to hard. In songs like this, you can just tell how hard Malik is trying to escape the One Direction sound. ’Wrong’, ’Fool For You’, and ’Bright’ all have this issue. There’s also a lot of cliché songs on the album, like ’Drunk’ (you can guess the meaning there). And I’m pretty sure the song isn’t referring to the energy drink, so can someone tell me what the hell ‘Lucozade’ means?
Despite the desperate attempts to escape his predecessor’s sound, there are some sweet moments on this album. The intermission, ‘Flower’, is actually an Urdu song that Zayn sang over acoustic guitar. It’s a pretty cool moment on the album, and apparently it was recorded in one take! It’s like a calling to his upbringing living in England with a Pakistani family. It’s a sweet moment that’s even cooler once you learn the story of it. Jazzy elements come into play as the groove is introduced in ‘Bordersz’ and ’Rear View’ that spice up the album. By the end of it, there’s no surprises left, sadly, and it ends unsatisfyingly on ‘She Don’t Love Me'.
Mind Of Mine is by no means a bad album. A boring album? At times, yes. Overall, it’s a pretty average modern pop album. It doesn’t really bring anything groundbreaking to the table besides the assurance to his fans that he’s not done with music. He achieves what he aims for: escaping One Direction. But in distancing himself with this new mature sound, he also seems desperate to escape. For now, it’s a waiting game to see where he goes from here.
Favorite Tracks: Pillowtalk, Intermission: Flower
Least Favorite Tracks: It’s You, Fool For You, She Don’t Love Me