One year ago Zayn Malik shocked the mainstream music world when he announced that he was leaving One Direction, a group which he had been a part of since their X Factor days in 2010. They were and still are the boyband of a generation but Zayn always seemed like he wanted more than what critics would call “cheesy music” so went his separate ways. Now, exactly 365 days after this drama, he releases his debut solo album which he has called ‘Mind Of Mine’, perhaps a jibe at the criticism One Direction received for not writing their own music. With the promise of an R&B sound and how he was heavily influenced by his childhood heroes Tupac and Biggie Smalls, music eagerly anticipated how this change of direction would suit Zayn.
MiNd Of MiNdd (Intro) – 6/10
Gentle taster for the album as it gradually beds you into the style of the album. Much like the 1975’s intros with that soulful style but not that much to it. Steady but not a lot more.
PILLOWTALK – 8.5/10
I really like this song. You really get a sense that this is a sign of the type of music Zayn dreamed of making, a more R&B style as opposed to the pop rhythm of One Direction. Aimed at current girlfriend and model Gigi Hadid, who features in the racy music video and the lyrics follow suit. Sexually driven as he sings about being in “bed all day” but I assume there hasn’t been much sleeping. Wide vocal range that we all wanted to hear from Zayn after appearing restricted by 1D but still nothing absolutely mesmerising. You can see why this track charted so well, a great lead single with heavy drum beats and a smooth R&B sound.
iT’s YoU – 6/10
Slower track, perhaps a deeper meaning to the lyrics than on PILLOWTALK but in a more loved involvement as opposed to sexualising his relationship. There is a lingering tone of his previous engagement to Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards here, mentioning that he won’t “cover the scars” that she may have left and will instead pour his feelings out onto this track. It’s an okay song but there’s not a lot going on and seems a bit like a poor man’s Bryson Tiller track or even a Frank Ocean but he’s nowhere near that level here. Great vocal on chorus though even if he lyrics are repetitive and dull.
Upbeat song with a more edgy side to Zayn that we were all expecting. The instrumental is rhythmic and catchy but goes bizarre in the chorus with this wavy tone that pierces the track and kind of draws the attention away from his vocal. Unfortunately in the chorus it is very same old with repetitive and hardly intriguing lyrics. The verses and bridges do provide good vocals though with a mysterious delve into his past and how it’s made him who he is. Other than the one high note he hits in the first bridge, the vocal is very mono tonal and struggles to impress.
Modern R&B instrumental sound is unique and infectious, it takes over the track in the right way in the chorus as we hear a wide array of sounds which are always welcome and work wonders. The bridge is bizarre and distorts Zayn’s vocal to an electronica tone as he builds up to another smooth chorus. Lyrically speaking it’s not really that mind blowing as he continues in similar trends of precious songs, by repeating lyrics continually and forcing it upon us the way he breaks it down into chunks in the chorus does work well however and means that we can at least hear a slight variety. Seems to be saved a bit by the instrumental because without that the song isn’t that enjoyable.
Much better on the vocal as he shows range in his tone and also doesn’t repeat himself AS MUCH as he does previously. Don’t get me wrong he still does it, in fact his repetition even spills onto the verse at the beginning but it’s a better lyric as a whole so it can be excused. A good song in which Zayn speaks of his future and how he will be “drunk all summer” with his partner Gigi Hadid. Another racy track with a strong undertone of sex so there’s no prizes for guessing what he’s been getting up to in this little break since leaving One Direction. Does drag a bit towards the end, much like Rihanna’s album he just loves to brag about all he sex he’s having.
INTERMISSION (ft. fLoWer) – 4/10
Very soft, sounds almost oriental in its style and wobbly vocal. Sung in a foreign language and just seems pointless to be honest. Really bizarre choice to put this in unless he’s attempting to show off his foreign heritage but even then he could have done that much better than he did here. Leaves you scratching your head and isn’t a good song whatsoever, intermission or not.
rEaR vIeW – 8/10
The electronic beat seems heavily influenced by early 90s Trance Music and works very effectively with Zayn’s vocal which is strong and has a distinct sound. The best aspect of this song is the brilliant consistency to change his vocal pace. There are times where he will be picking up speed in his lyrics and just as it is becoming a bit overwhelming he brings it straight back to earth with a soft high note. The chorus is catchy and shows Zayn’s compassionate side with all the things he has “heard about” as listed in throughout. Makes you forget the shambolics of the previous track in a hurry and makes the album as a whole seem stronger. Without doubt a highlight of the whole record.
wRoNg (ft. Kehlani) – 7/10
There is no doubt that due to recent events this track will gain widespread publicity. All the controversy surrounding Kehlani and her suicide attempt will result in people diving into her lyrics to discover deep meanings to the story. This, however, will have been recorded long before the alleged affair she was having on NBA basketball player Kyrie Irving so let’s just focus on the song as if nothing has happened. Once again sounds like something you would hear on an album from The Weeknd instrumentally with its faded and sensual tone but vocally Zayn doesn’t come close to him and seems to focus more on the beat than anything else. The song is saved by Kehlani actually as her feature is a smash hit with domineering lyricism and vocal ability. She completely outshines Zayn on this song and as a whole appears to suit the genre more. That doesn’t take anything away from the production which is solid and helps get the best out of his feature artist. The lyrics are sexually driven but also with a hint of anger and betrayal which compliment well.
fOoL fOr YoU – 6.5/10
Back to a slow tune as it’s just Zayn and a piano which really requires a powerful vocal to fully work and he duly delivers. One of the better vocal performances on the album as a whole as a calm and rhythmic drum beat eventually fades into the track. Lyrically solid as he sings about how madly in love he is with this girl and how it makes him do stupid things he wouldn’t usually do. Almost like he’s trapped in her spell and it changes his personality in order to suit her. Could be seen positively or negatively but I believe that it’s intention was to be a passionate love song in which he declares a burning love as opposed to frustration at her games. Despite the strong vocal showing the song as a whole seems quite bland and he limited instrumental aid really takes its toll.
BoRdErSz – 5.5/10
Very chilled out song with lyrics to match its soft approach. Not an awful lot going on in this track but this subtleness does have a purpose and allows for Zayn to show his varied vocal ability by maintaining an unusually high pitched tone throughout the song. You do get bored by the end, though and are almost willing it to end as this soft sound becomes increasingly morbid and unnecessary. Feels a lot longer than 4 minutes long which can’t be a good thing. It started well but you feel as though a new sound was needed to provide another angle for this song otherwise it would just fizzle out; which is exactly what it did.
tRuTh – 7.5/10
Sounds like a muffled version of an old school Radiohead guitar riff mashed up with a modern R&B soul beat and this combination is fantastic in my opinion as it appears risky but clicks fantastically. As the instrumental steps it up a level so do the lyrics and vocals as the pre-chorus builds and provides a mysterious and commanding performance from Zayn as he says he won’t “ask any questions” and just wants to “see the truth.” The chorus provides a quiet but strong vocal showing as he goes high and hits all the right notes but is quite repetitive, it’s a good job it’s short really. It’s another good song overall and hit all expectations of what we expected when Zayn was promoting this album as there is edginess mixed with sensuality in abundance.
lUcOzAdE – 4/10
Not a fan of the song name, not a great start really and makes it all seem like a bit of a joke song. The beat is funky but very overwhelming with such an irritating sound that just doesn’t go away. It draws all attention away from Zayn’s lyrics as he appears to be on the brink of shouting at some parts just to be heard. Surely he would have noticed this during the recording stage and edited any errors? You will do very well not to get frustrated at this song almost immediately let me put it that way. He’s tried too hard to make it sound like a Disclosure song or something of that ilk and it royally flops. To confirm, the song sure is a joke alright but not for the reasons we could be expecting with a song title like that.
TiO – 3/10
Much darker and heavier start to this song than on the last one, seems much more serious from the get go. Despite this edgy sound, it doesn’t shy away from the fact that this song is basically soft-core pornography with the filth coming out of once teen sensation Zayn’s mouth. “Take it off” repeated in the chorus while talking about being “pinned against the wall” means that his intentions are rather clear. The instrumental is nothing special either which makes this song just uninventive and pretty terrible personally. The teenage fandom will love it because it will give them an opportunity to fantasise but that’s about it.
BLUE – 4/10
‘Quick, let’s pretend my last song never happened by putting a cute love so after it.’ Seems like he tries to save his diabolical last performance by being a lot softer and more lovey as opposed to a borderline sex pest. I can’t understand a word he says on this song other than the occasional squeal of “I” and it’s all moany and sounds like heartache. It’s also earache to those listening by the way. This album has spiralled downwards so quickly after a fairly promising start. This is the sort of song only an obsessed and deluded fan would enjoy because there is literally no depth to it. The definition of an album filler.
BRIGHT – 5.5/10
After three of the worst songs in existence surely it can only get better from here? Well it does thankfully as you can sort of understand what he is singing (although it’s not easy) and the beat doesn’t seem forced to be a specific genre, it sounds natural and matches the vocal. The instrumental is still the highlight of this song and will be sure to make you sway along to its snappy and modern style but really it still doesn’t salvage the song from being nothing short of mediocre. I like the way it fades immediately to the next song though if that counts for anything?
LIKE I WOULD – 8.5/10
The second single released by Zayn, if you listen to the radio or keep up with new releases then you will have heard this song. After the release of this and ‘PILLOWTALK’ everyone was wondering if Zayn was going to do a Justin Bieber and transform into this popular figure all over music rather than just for female attention. A brilliant beat that would be a club banger anywhere and is actually quite similar to this modern Bieber style. I also like the arrogance of Zayn’s lyrics in this song as he reiterates that this girl has no better option than him; singing “he won’t love you like I would” in the chorus. The adequate breaks in the vocals during the drop of the beat is effective and matches the style of this particular genre by not allowing his voice to drown out the strong and catchy instrumentals. These are the songs you should be producing Zayn, not the trash before this.
SHE DONT LOVE ME – 5/10
Groovy guitar riff sound is too faint for my liking and I just feel like it doesn’t suit the whole structure of the song. Saying that, I don’t think Zayn actually knows himself what the intention of this song was because there are parts where it sounds slow and depressing but then it builds up and shows possibilities of being another dance track. Neither of those sounds have worked particularly well on the song and put together they make it even worse. The arrogance of Zayn in the last song worked as he was singing about the right things, here he just sounds like a bit of a egomaniac. “I think I know she don’t love me, that’s why I f*** her right” is a lyric that just seems delusional and this constant forcing of sex becomes a bit tragic towards the end. It’s almost as if he is desperate for everyone to know how sexually active he is and that doesn’t set the tone for a good album.
A completely mixed bag. The success rate on the album isn’t really that great and it all seems a bit rushed as a project, a theory which is backed up by the release date being the one year anniversary of him leaving One Direction. There are three top draw songs on this album and two of them were lead singles which charted successfully, the rest are either okay and nothing more or are severe album fillers to get the numbers up. Zayn is new to the R&B scene but is going to have to come a long way to reach the heights of Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and even Justin Bieber in the future. Despite this I was expecting a lot worse and let me put it his way, it’s much more tolerable than One Direction’s music to me so that’s something going his way.