One fifth of “One Direction” shines on his own

Zayn Malik “Mind of Mine” breaks away from boy band sound

By Alex Woodliff
Staff Writer

4/5 stars

zayn-malik-mind-of-mineAfter 5 years as part of “One Direction”, Zayn Malik, now known as just Zayn, has gone solo. Like any other boybands before them, there are always members who attempt a solo career, often with mixed results. Not everyone who attempts to establish themselves as a credible pop artist after leaving a boyband end up like Justin Timberlake. Malik trades in the family friendly PG pop sound that made One Direction famous, for a low tempo R&B sound and lyrics that would never see the light of day on any of his work with his previous band. “Mind of Mine” is crafted with an appeal towards adults and fans that followed him during his tenure with “One Direction” who may have grown out of studio crafted radio friendly pop.

“Mind of Mine” carries a sound and production that demonstrates that as a solo artist, Malik has the potential for long term career. The down tempo framework also plays with traditional sounds from his Muslim background, with the intermission track “Flower” being performed in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, Malik’s heritage has been a point of media attention, a point of contention for some and celebration for others, some saying he is too Muslim and others saying he is not Muslim enough. Despite all, “Mind of Mine” validates a potential that would have probably been stifled had he remained with “One Direction”.

Some tracks do stand out more than others though. The intro track, from which the album derives its name, Malik simple sings “Now I’m on the edge/I can’t find my way/It’s inside of my mind of mine.” His Bradford, West Yorkshire accent is strong on all the tracks but does not affect the ability to understand the lyrics of the songs. Themes of relationships, doubts, fears, growth and determination are the major ideas of the album.

“It’s You” a slow tempo ballad where the idea of loving someone despite their behavior “Am I wrong for wanting us to make it? Tell me your lies, because I just can’t face it”. Next is “BeFour” about setting out on his own from his former band and the uncertainty of it all Malik sings “I’ve done this before/Not like this,not like this/Time for me to move up/So many hours have gone.” Next standout track is “Rear View” about a strained relationship coming to it’s end due to a partner’s issues “I never doubted myself, but I doubted you/I’m tired of looking at myself In my rearview.” “Wrong” a duet with singer Kehlani, about the highs and lows of a relationship based on physicality only, Malik warns “You’re looking in the wrong place for my love/Don’t think because you’re with me this is real.”Pillowtalk” his current radio single, about the joy that comes with being intimate with someone you love “I’d love to hold you close, tonight and always/I’d love to wake up next to you.” “Blue” a mid-tempo piano ballad paralleled with somber lyrics about unrequited love “She knows I need her touching/She plays with my heart and emotion.

Bottom-line, for a former boyband member known for family friendly PG lyrics and melodies, Zayn and his production team have crafted an earnest first solo record. If Malik continues on with the effort displayed here he could possibly become known as Zayn the solo artist and not Zayn Malik of “One Direction.”

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