Review by Nick Erickson, Staff writer
Almost exactly a year ago, the fan base of British boy band One Direction was torn at the seams at the news that Zayn Malik was departing from the group. Despite everyone’s horror, the future seemed bright for Malik. He has the looks and a voice that sends shivers down the spines of pre-teens across America.
Malik’s debut solo record “Mind of Mine” just hit shelves, and it’s everything one could ask for from the 23-year-old singer. This record is 14 tracks of sensuous, R&B laden pop that is executed on par if not better than any of 1D’s discography.
With his split with ex-fiancée Perrie Edwards in mind, one could presume Malik would bring forth some heart-wrenching tracks. Malik has previously stated in interviews that a majority of “Mind of Mine” is about falling out of love, while never directly mentioning anything specific. From a lyrical standpoint, this record is overall more mature than anything Malik put out with the 1D boys. The lyrics are provocative, tinged with sexual urgency, and there’s the occasional swearing. None of these fits the innocent image 1D had embroidered.
Lead single “Pillowtalk” has already gathered millions of YouTube hits. Malik sings with the edge and power to fill a stadium, albeit singing of the risqué: conversations that occurs in bed with a sexual partner, hence the title. The wall of ambiance and synth driving the song coats Malik’s smooth vocals, and it fits the mood he conveys.
“I’m seeing the pain, seeing the pleasure. Nobody but you, ‘body but me, ‘body but us. Bodies together.”
The solemn church organ and light drum beat of “It’s You” carries listeners through the track as Malik shows his vulnerability. “Tell me your lies because I just can’t face it,” Malik sings, coupled with some extra “oohs” and subtle piano chords. A chilled atmosphere is the key component that makes this simplistic track so beautiful.
Mellowed out “Drunk” shows Malik’s true R&B influence. As the title suggests, Malik sings of having a drunken good time and cautiously trying not to blow his chance with a girl he’s interested in. It’s intriguing and fun, just as pop should be at its core, and also is relatable to anyone who has been in the situation.
Closer “TIO” features Malik’s impressive high-end range, with creative staccato vocal patterns, a crisp beat and a faint, pulsating synth line. Malik channels the late Michael Jackson while giving his own unique flare. “I just like it when you take it off,” Malik sings. The seductive nature of this track, plus the infectious beat, are bound to stay on repeat in the car radios of millions.
There is substance to be found in “Mind of Mine.” This isn’t absent-minded, watered-down pop society is used to. A lot of passion and hours went into this record and Malik makes it prevalent. Whether or not his solo debut outshines his five-year span with 1D is subjective to the listener. But with the talent he shows in this record, it’s bound to be enjoyed by anyone who loves a fun, easy-listening experience.