Friday, March 25th 2016; presses play and listens to ‘Mind of Mine’ on Spotify for the first time.
It’s a year to the day since Zayn Malik left One Direction and his debut solo album is unveiled upon the world. Let me start by saying I have always adored Zayn’s voice and I was intrigued to hear his sound and how his music comes across. I use the term come across loosely as I believe one of the most beautiful things about music is that each person can interpret a song and a lyric in a completely different way that makes sense to them. Over the past month I’ve watched and read interviews with Zayn where he’s discussed the album and one thing (pardon the pun Directioners), I’ve picked up on is Zayn’s genuine passion for the songs and the whole process of making this album. I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to listening to the album but lead single Pillowtalk is a good indication; sexy, honest and very much in the pop/R&B lane.
Zayn himself has described the album as, “weird, alternative R&B” stating, “it’s all sparse and random.” Each song has a different story to tell and while there is a mix of genres throughout Mind of Mine, the album still feels cohesive and works. A big part of that is down to production. The select number of producers alongside Zayn work together to achieve a collective sound, one complimenting the other. Zayn’s vocal ability is showcased and demonstrates diverse aspects of his voice. There are the typical R&B elements on tracks such as Drunk and Wrong (a duet with American singer-songwriter Kehlani), and more experimental elements on tracks such as Truth, Lucozade and the Intermission: Flower which is sung in Urdu.
If you’re a fan of Zayn’s poppier sound, you will not be disappointed. Zayn displays a bit of classic pop and has a One Direction-esque moment on Beatles inspired ballad Fool For You. His gorgeous falsetto features on a number of tracks including, It’s You, BeFour and She – further illustrating Zayn’s talents. Note: The “flashing lights” falsetto in the middle eight of BeFour is my favourite of the whole album!
If you’re looking to compare Zayn’s sound to another artist you will be hard-pressed to do so. While there are elements of Zayn’s influences throughout the album (Usher – Drunk, The Beatles – Fool For You, The Weeknd – TIO) it doesn’t sound like Zayn is trying to imitate those artists. The lyrics and thoughts are completely his. You can’t dispute the honesty in the lyrics and where they’re coming from.
It’s no secret that Mind of Mine is a rather sexual album with Zayn admitting himself that Pillowtalk is about sex. In my opinion this makes the album more endearing as Zayn writes about a topic we all want to hear about and know more about. It would be easy for these lyrics to come off as cheap and distasteful but something about Zayn’s voice and the way they’re worded make them beautiful. Zayn sings about getting to know someone, discovering what they’re really like and getting them to let their guard down in Borderz, “So take it off, let’s break down all of our walls.“ He also hints at being interested in more than looks in TIO, “Take off all your makeup baby take it off.“ A man who enjoys the no makeup look gets extra points in my book!
While Mind of Mine is a shift from Zayn’s former 1D days, he hasn’t lost his boyish charm and good looks that made teenage girls go crazy. I hold my hand up and admit I’ve never been a One Direction fan but the success the band has achieved is pretty amazing! I mentioned previously, Fool For You is the closest to a One Direction moment you will get on the album but the pop sensibilities of She are also not far off. You could suggest lyrically Rear View and Truth are about the band and perhaps the spelling of BeFour is a reference to the band’s album ‘Four’?
As you can probably tell from my glowing review, I am completely in love with this album! I have been listening to it non-stop for the past month and it will easily be one of my top albums for 2016. Again, I had no idea what I would think or if I’d even like Mind of Mine before listening to it but it really has surprised me. Discovering something left-field to what you normally listen to and ending up loving it is another thing I adore about music. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a similar age to Zayn but I feel like this album is right for me at this time of my life. While our lifestyle choices are worlds apart, the truthfulness and raw lyrics connect with me. A couple of years ago I might not have listened to Mind of Mine and appreciated it. Zayn has always had this mysterious persona surrounding him (though not created by him) and this album really sees him break down a few walls of his own and cement his place as a credible artist.
If I could describe the album in 5 words: sexy, honest, eclectic, captivating, beautiful.
Standout Tracks: Pillowtalk, BeFoUr, sHe, BoRdErZ, TIO and Like I Would.
Have you listened to Mind of Mine? What’s your favourite track? Also, be sure to let me know if you enjoyed my review!