By: Kristin Helf, Staff Writer
What first struck me about Zayn Malik’s premiere solo album “Mind of Mine” is, duh, the sOnG tITLES. The caps lock button is right underneath “tab”— please turn it off, I’m begging you.
But after listening to the album, it turns out that the stylistic choice of the tiTleS isn’t like, “let’s do something funky/weird/a little obnoxious,” but like the lyrics to his songs, it’s more like, “I’m not in 1D anymore and this is a shallow and annoying way for me to prove my edginess.”
That’s not an actual Zayn quote and, yes, it was a mean way for me to decry “Mind of Mine” as the disaffected bad-boy album it tries so hard to be.
But, for example, take the song “sHe,” which Zayn described as a “party tune” that’s “not as intense lyrically” as some of the other songs. I find it hard to detect what songs he was referring to on the album that actually are lyrically intense.
“BeFoUr” is an examination of the pop singer’s life before he left One Direction, which reveals the dissatisfaction he felt at that time with lines like, “No strings for you to pull on,” and, “Can’t tune my chords / Into your songs, no.”
“INTERMISSION: fLoWer” is my favorite song on the album. Zayn, who hasn’t been known to speak much about his heritage, sings Urdu lyrics in a song with a Pakistani folk vibe. But ballads like those are the exceptions. Most songs don’t delve deeper than breakup sex (“PILLOWTALK”) or getting drunk all summer—as the chorus to “dRuNk” is literally, “Drunk all summer, drunk all summer / We’ve been drunk all summer.”
He’s like that college freshman that really, really wants you to know that they consume alcohol on a regular basis. Or, in this case, the former shiny-eyed boy band-er who can’t wait to tell you about all the sex he’s been having, and that he’s not afraid to say the f-word.
“Mind of Mine” is not a bad album, especially as a first solo effort. Zayn’s main collaborator throughout the recording process was James “Malay” Ho, who produced Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange,” an influence along with The Weeknd that clearly shows through on “Mind of Mine.”
The R&B pop songs are good to chill out to, but not much else. “Mind of Mine” won’t inspire you to be a better person, or even to necessarily get out of bed.
It doesn’t reveal much about Zayn’s life (“BeFoUr” and “fLoWer” being the exceptions), other than that he’s a typical 23-year-old male. And most of the songs won’t even make for fun dance numbers—for that, you might as well turn back to One Direction.