Photo from Billboard.com
By Rawson Jahan
Zayn Malik’s “Mind of Mine” has been a long awaited album. In an effort to distinguish himself from the music of his former band mates, Malik’s first solo album reflects a different side to him: an edgier, mature side. The March-released album is suggestive and pushes the boundaries that One Direction’s albums could not because of its audience. In “Mind of Mine,” Malik is able to fully express himself, his heritage and speak on traditionally taboo topics like sex.
His album is a coalition of two sides: a soft and sultry, sung from the heart emote and the other is a mix of R&B, pop and even techno influences. The album’s perfect introductory song “Mind of Mind” immediately draws attention with its soothing tunes that sound almost Bollywood in nature. Despite it lasting a mere 57 seconds, the flow of harmonies set the tone to who Malik is.
With lyrics like “open up and see what’s inside of … my mind,” just ‘urghhh.’
And that’s exactly what he shows us in this album. The song “Drunk” is pure and takes the listener on a journey with him. Malik’s voice is alluring and the softness in the end fills fans with a sense of warmth.
Another beautiful song, “Blue,” also deserves recognition. Its romantic declaration of love, “In the clouds where the angels sing/ In your eyes, where I wanna be,” can easily leave fans flustered with emotions.
Throughout the album, Malik depicts a style similar to that of the Weeknd and PartyNextDoor. In “Wrong Feat. Kehlani,” Malik sang, “And I like when she’s undressed…/You’re looking the wrong place for my love.” For what seems like the first time, Malik is able to speak about sex, something that his former band with its base of preteen fans could not do. Malik captures the topic with a sensual tone and steamy words.
Oh, this one’s a fan favorite: “Pillow Talk.” And it has even more explicit, sexual suggestions. Lyrics like, “A place that is so pure, so dirty and raw/ Be in the bed all day, bed all day, bed all day/ Fucking in, fighting on, ” are a reference to Malik’s adulthood. He is 22 years old and does not have to censor his words for a specific audience anymore.
But where Malik has taken a step in the right direction with his raw and honest lyrics, his more upbeat songs need some cleaning up. “Befour,” a song that symbolizes Malik’s life, initially sounds similar to “Uptown Funk” by Pharell Williams and Mark Ronson. With progression, the similarity eventually disappears, yet still leaves behind an offbeat rhythm.
But for what Malik lacks in “Befour,” he makes up with “Intermission: Flower.” Strung together beautifully, Malik sings the lyrics in Urdu, which is a true tribute to his upbringing and culture. The song not only symbolizes who Malik is at his core, but it also unites many of his South Asian fans that share his heritage.
The album “Mind of Mine” shows great potential for the artist Malik can be. His tracks show his personal experiments with musical melodies and styles. While sometimes risky, each song shows how Malik is trying to find his personal style and taste.
In many of his works this can easily be seen. In all, the album is a light on the person Malik is and the influences that inspired him to create his certain tunes. The album gives fans a sense of his identity, culture, and feelings. Malik stays true to himself and does an outstanding job at not having generic pop-induced tracks.