It was just a year ago that Zayn Malik left the worldwide phenomenon that was One Direction.
Fast forward to March 25, the anniversary of his departure, and the 22-year-old Bradford bad boy who now goes by ZAYN has released his debut album “Mind of Mine.” The title of the album subliminally illustrates that Malik’s mind and thoughts are no longer censored, like they were during his time in the band.
There were restrictions on what Malik could sing. His soul felt… Malik was restricted on what to sing, his soul felt R&B, but executives felt more bubblegum pop. Now free from the chain Malik takes no punches on “Mind of Mine,” from explicit lyrics to a slowed down tempo.
The attempt to prove himself as an artist rather than being controlled like a marionette, is executed accordingly but not successfully. “Mind of Mine” doesn’t reach the level Justin Timberlake achieved with “Justified” and “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” but his smoky R&B sound that resembles The Weeknd and Miguel is enough to create his own mark.
Prior to the release Malik got immediate backlash after the unveiling of the cover. The image is of him as toddler covered with his current tattoos, which immediately sparked comparisons to Lil Wayne’s last three album covers.
“Pillowtalk” was Malik’s first official solo single released back in January, which skyrocketed to number one on the Billboard’s chart within a week. This sultry track, exemplifies Malik’s transition from the polish figure he was sought out to be. Fans went into a frenzy when it dropped. Malik doesn’t hesitate to sing about a seemingly toxic relationship consisting of fighting and having sex.
Malik had the most powerful vocals from One Direction, he was the core of the falsettos and the piercing high notes in the bridge on their teen pop love songs. His album explores different aspects in his life, from heartbreak to finding love. Malik had a high-profile engagement to Little Mix singer, Perrie Edwards, and he landed in hot water as it was announced he blinded her and broke it off.
The club track “Like I Would” which is rumored to be for Edwards, opens up with the lyrics “Hey what’s up? It’s been awhile” describes Malik being in the lonely hour and starting to confess his internal thoughts. It’s the typical jealous rage confessional, his former flame is off with someone else, but to make himself feel better he intends no can love like he would. The chorus meets a strong upbeat vibe, making it the only dance track on the album. Surprising enough Malik decided to put this current chart topper on only the deluxe edition. The sense of the album feels like a roller coaster it starts of strong getting to the pinnacle of things, but after the intermission track “Flower” it begins to slightly lose momentum, with his only duet on the record with R&B sensation Kehlani sooths the soul with a downcasted tempo and finger-click beats.
“Mind of Mine” has fallen to the hype that was built up from the day Malik signed to RCA Records back in July. His authenticity is nothing out of the ordinary, but his vocals are pure and raw. Without the help of One Direction’s creator Simon Cowell, and his teen heartthrob looks, Malik would just be another R&B singer on SoundCloud hoping to get noticed by someone somewhere.