Zayn Malik rebels against his old image in his new album, “Mind of Mine”

By Christina Yacono

(Official Facebook page of Zayn Malik)
(Official Facebook page of Zayn Malik)

Exactly one year after Zayn Malik’s departure from the internationally known boy band One Direction, he released his R&B styled debut album “Mind of Mine” under his first name, ZAYN.

With an album cover that has been labeled a copy of Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” and a lack of understanding basic, tasteful typography – with song titles that mix upper and lower case letters – the album doesn’t seem promising at first glance.

The album as a whole is what is to be expected of the 23 year old transitioning from upbeat pop songs about first kisses to a more mature and even over used theme about sex, drinking and drugs. Zayn wants his listeners to be conscious of the fact that he’s not the same kid that auditioned for the X-Factor six years ago. He’s producing music different from what he has been associated with in the past.

In the first single off the album “PILLOWTALK,” Zayn sings, “Be in the bed all day, bed all day, bed all day/F***ing in fighting on/It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone.” While catchy in its sensual rhythm, it reads like any other clichéd song about sex.

Other songs like “dRuNk,” “wRonG,” “BoRdErSz” and “TiO,” also focus on the same idea and quickly gets tiresome, especially with lyrics like, “some people are meant to be loved and others just naked” and others that explain how he wants to “take off all your clothes and watch you take them off.”

Even the most heartfelt song that perfectly hits the high notes, “iT’s YoU,” falls into the pattern of a repetitive chorus that doesn’t add as much depth to the song as it could.

Where the lyrics of many of the songs fail to deliver in creative innovation, Malik’s ranged vocals, like that of a seasoned musician and music style similar to The Weeknd’s “Trilogy,” brings the modern and soulful album together.

In an interview in last November’s issue of The Fader, Malik explained, “there was never any room for me to experiment creatively in (One Direction).”

This record does just that by combining R&B, hip-hop, pop, electronic and even a little rock to bring a refreshing approach to his music.

Songs such as “tRuTh” and “lUcOzAdE” highlight the hazy and sometimes dark atmosphere of many of today’s popular R&B sounds. In “lUcOzAdE” Malik garbles his words together in an attempt to sound sultry, but comes off murky in the way it’s sung.

The most interesting track on the record is the soothingly calm intermission, which is a short poetic piece, sung in Urdu, an acknowledgement to his Pakistani heritage.

Although “LIKE I WOULD” was the second single, it only appears on the deluxe edition of the album when it should have a place on the standard edition. It’s the most upbeat song with euphoric electro-pop rhythm that makes it easy to dance to. Had the album provided one or two more jubilant pop-like songs such as this, it would have added a bit more variety and be more cohesive.

Making it abundantly clear that Malik is an independent person with his own ideas, thoughts and voice, the album was successful in reaching the hearts of many as seen in the numerous number one album ratings it received. And while Malik’s voice and music production were the focal points in the album, he still has a ways to go, at least in his choice of words to allow for more original lyrics.

Christina Yacono can be reached at [email protected]