Music Review: Zayn - 'Mind of Mine'

The world stopped one year ago this week when Zayn Malik, who does not smile, left British juggernaut boy band One Direction. "Which one is Zayn?" we asked before ducking. It seemed like a pretty big deal.

Zayn, apparently, was the bad boy of the group, with eyelashes as aggressive as the original sarlacc. "I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time," he said, a reasonable expectation for someone tired of touring the world for a half decade.

Exactly one year later, Zayn's private relaxation time culminated in the release of his first solo album, Mind of Mine. While the cover art is suspiciously reminiscent of Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, one gets over that pretty quickly because, I mean, look at that little boy's smile!

Ian Wes—PA Wire/Press Association Images

Ian Wes—PA Wire/Press Association Images

Highfalutin boy band drama aside, let's discuss if the album is any good (not really) and if the mishmash of song title stylizations puts you at risk for seizure (it does). 

"PILLOWTALK" is the song you've heard awkwardly introduced by your local middle-aged male radio DJ after a morning show bit involving varying levels of hot sauce. It's a fine song, which puts it in the album's upper echelon of tracks. "BeFoUr", whose spelling is probably some secret reference to his old group that I refuse to research, is also a pretty okay song.

In fact, most songs range from "okay" to "just okay." There are no hits here. "LIKE I WOULD" has a little something to it, but like most tracks, Zayn's voice gets lost in the music.

It's a curious decision, the blending-in. One would expect the first solo album from a former boy band member to really highlight his voice—to unleash his talents on the world. Instead, he's hidden, buried to his eyebrows in nondescript beats.

Zayn can reach all the notes and play all the roles and look all the looks. But to take the next step, he needs to Hulk out on these vocals and smile occasionally to remind us he's human. Better songs would also help. |ES|

Note: Don't be alarmed when listening to "tRuTh"—the song actually samples the sound your PC makes when you unplug a USB device. Groundbreaking stuff.