Zayn ‘Mind Of Mine’
Just over a year since his departure from One Direction, Zayn Malik has released his debut solo album ‘Mind Of Mine’. The album is a definitive and distinctive split from his previous musical career, creating an individualistic feel that infuses downbeat pop with R&B and lyrics all written by Zayn himself. ‘Mind Of Mine’ promises the ultimate rebrand from One Direction; the intended audience can appreciate ‘older’ themes and more sensual, explicit lyrics that the boy-band’s mostly young and impressionable audience prevented him from exploring sooner.
- MiNd Of MiNdd (Intro)
- iT’s YoU
- INTERMISSION fLoWer
- rEaR vIeW
- wRoNg (ft. Kehlani)
- fOoL fOr YoU
- LIKE I WOULD
- SHE DON’T LOVE ME
My main concern with approaching this album is the use of alternating uppercase and lowercase in the song titles, but don’t let it deter you from listening – I swear it’s as cool as Zayn’s rebellious persona would lead you to believe.
The first track, ‘MiNd of MiNdd (Intro)’, is a minute long opener to the album that sets the scene for the tracks to follow; Zayn introduces the record with ‘open up and see what’s inside of my mind’ to suggest how personal and individualistic his approach has been to establish himself as a solo artist. As an artist proud of his heritage and cultural roots, tracks such as ‘iT’s YoU’ feature vocal runs, specifically the popular Hindustani murki that features in many Indian sub-continental music. ‘lUcOzAdE’ is evocative of this Hindustani style, the melisma so very typical of Zayn throughout his One Direction career and throughout the new album. For me, a personal highlight of the album is ‘INTERMISSION: fLoWeR’, sung entirely in Urdu and encompasses the Pakistani folk sound that makes it one of the most emotionally hitting songs being written in the poetic ghazal form, the pain of loss is shown juxtaposed with the beauty of love in spite – creating a besotted song that still resonates with its audience despite possibly not understanding the language. The intermission is just one of the songs that makes the album so distinctive, despite usually skipping the intermission, the melodic nature of this song makes you feel too guilty to miss.
Songs like ‘dRuNk’, ‘rEaR vIeW’, ‘tRuTh’ and ‘BoRdErZ’ are reminiscent of recent releases by artists like The Weeknd, and stand as a reminder that whilst Zayn establishes himself as an individual artist, the album still adheres to popular taste. There are certainly songs that observe a ‘party tune’ recognition, and are perhaps weaker expressively and lyrically – relying on repetitive and dance melodies, but are still perfectly enjoyable. The bonus track, ‘LIKE I WOULD’, is an excitable and upbeat R&B jam that is evidently strong enough to have been released as a single and is immediately catchy.
‘BeFoUr’ suggests the play on words incorporating the now-four-member old band, it features a distinctive upbeat R&B style and the high notes many of One Direction’s new songs feel lacking in. The falsetto-heavy style is also featured in ‘BLUE’, an unusual track that is in part meditative as a piano driven ballad, and deservedly a bonus track that strikes as very different to the established style despite the noteworthy distinctive vocals. ‘fOoL fOr YoU’ is another slower-tempo track, retro infused and Lucy-in-the-Sky-with-Diamonds-inspired with a quieter sound to anything else we have heard. ‘wRoNg’ is the only collaboration on ‘Mind Of Mine’, featuring R&B singer Kehlani; it’s synth-heavy and atmospheric with blunt and sensual lyricism in harmonised vocals.
‘Mind Of Mine’ is a solid breakout from Zayn’s past musical career; it’s hard to discredit his solo work as non-individualistic or weak as it proves to have defined sound and an obvious relation to heritage. It seems clear that, as he develops as a solo artist, the sound will become even more distinctive. It’s evident that he has tried to escape the shell of One Direction, not playing too safe with explicit lyrics and themes in order to evolve in a way the old music restricted him from doing. Most of the album stands as distinctive and Zayn has managed a success away from his past, allowing us to enjoy an impressive debut from a very promising solo artist.
Highlights: INTERMISSION: fLoWeR, sHe, PILLOWTALK, BeFoUr, LIKE I WOULD
Author: Caitlin Abbiss