Zayn Malik’s debut solo album is ‘Mind of Mine.’ He famously — or infamously, perhaps — left One Direction for a solo career and now exactly a year later, his highly anticipated debut arrives and the music critics are weighing in. Here’s a roundup of reviews.
It’s been exactly a year since One Direction went from quintet to quartet with the departure of Zayn Malik. While 1D soldiered on, there was a solo artist waiting to emerge. If nothing else, it’s a reminder that before there was a One Direction there were five solo artists competing on The X Factor UK (original audition video below) who, before our very eyes were assembled into a boy band that’s gone on to have incredible success, to put it mildly.
As months have gone by and that emerging solo artist has become more and more vocal, the world has gotten a glimpse into the manufacturing that goes into such teen idol boy bands such as One Direction, a band that, like clockwork released one album per year for five years, and, predictably toured the world, greeted by countless screaming fans.
How could anyone walk away from such global fame and material success? And for what. Zayn Malik has been answering that very question for a year, in words, and now, as the album arrives in full, in song.
In numerous interviews he has opened up about the constrains of being a teen idol, telling Complex magazine, for instance that One Direction “was about denying the authenticity of who I was, and what I enjoyed about music, and why I got into it.” He went on to explain, “That was something that was always underlying, and ended up as the main factor of me leaving in the end. That was always there. It was one of the things that wasn’t going to go away, so I had to go away. I was frustrated with the band.”
And now we’re getting the real Zayn Malik, free of such strictures. Even the album title, is a declaration, “Mind of Mine,” of finally being able to have his own mind and his own artistic expression.
His lead single, ‘Pillow Talk’ almost instantaneously topped charts all over the world, in dozens of countries. The suggestive and racy song was only equaled by an even more racy music video (below) with his girlfriend, model Gigi Hadid, who served both as love interest and director.
So yes, since Zayn Malik left One Direction in March of last year, we’ve witnessed quite a roll-out of a solo artist, emerging from the X Factor manufactured boy band to a solo artist in his own right.
Now that the album is out, the critics are weighing in. Here’s a roundup.
“…..A moody, deeply textured R&B album with vibe to spare, “Mind of Mine” sounds as if it was designed to showcase the effort and inspiration that went into it. Where 1D aimed to charm, Zayn wants to impress; instead of goofy puns, he’s dealing in intricately voiced piano chords. (So many fancy chords here.) About half the time, he convinces you he’s made the right choice….” — L.A. Times
“….That Mr. Malik has inserted a 104-second Urdu love song into the middle of his album of sweaty, smooth R&B is a wink and also a feint — a quick, restrained nod to those in the know, who have been following him for years, that he hasn’t forgotten his past as a Muslim R&B-inclined singer trying to operate with dignity in the unforgiving, often choppy waters of pop’s mainstream. […] “Mind of Mine” (RCA), out on Friday, March 25, shows a singer eager to reclaim the parts of himself that five years in the pop klieg lights forced into the shadows……” — The New York Times
“…..Zayn has clearly achieved his aim of making an album of sexy, credible pop-R&B. ‘Mind Of Mine’ is sumptuously produced and perfectly sung, with just enough intrigue. If it lacks personality, there are signs – especially on the dubby neo-soul of ‘Truth’ – that he’s in the process of developing one. The dark days of scripted horseplay with Harry Styles seem a long way in the past…..” — NME
“….The biggest problem with Mind of Mine is that Malik simply doesn’t have that much to say – a fact that grows increasingly apparent with each song. Read what you like into them (BeFour could be a riposte to his former bandmates, It’s You might have been directed at ex-fianceé Perrie Edwards), but most tracks are either about sex (Drunk, the aforementioned Pillowtalk), break-ups (Truth) or getting high (Lucozade) and come across as eye-rollingly puerile…..” –Irish Times
At long last, after a year of build-up, the new album is out. Will the fans embrace the solo artist? The high likelihood is yes. All signs would point to that, to say nothing of the massive success of ‘Pillow Talk.’ As the sales roll in, we’ll finally know for sure. You can see the music videos and Zayn Malik’s ‘Mind of Mine’ album cover art below!
Pictures: PR Photos