Album Review: ZAYN Showcases Unique Artistry on Solo Debut

(RCA Records)

ZAYN released his debut solo album Mind of Mine today. There are a whopping eighteen songs on the Deluxe Edition, including the singles he has released leading up to the release: “PILLOWTALK,” “LIKE I WOULD,” “iT’s You” and “BeFoUr.” Though “PILLOWTALK” is by far the most successful of the singles, ZAYN does not hold back with the rest of the album. The album is sensual, dark, mysterious, and very indicative to what the artist ZAYN stands for. There are not doubts that ZAYN has left his bubblegum boy-band image behind with his absence from One Direction, and he demonstrates to the music industry and fans that his talent delves much deeper than a boy-band image. His maturity ebbs through Mind of Mine due to its subject matter but also the artistic choices that create a metamorphosis effect to ZAYN’s image.

“wRoNg” featuring Kehlani is an example of a song that shows ZAYN’s artistry while collaborating with a big name such as Kehlani. The chorus states, “You’re looking in the wrong place for my love.” The whole vibe of the song is mysterious and sexual; it is an offbeat love song between two people, as Kehlani sings, “We’re only good for the nighttime.” The lyrics combined with the slow, continuous backbeats create the perfect turn-on song. Their voices mix well together, as ZAYN is able to reach a high register, and Kehlani has a beautiful R&B-esque tone to her voice that create a promiscuous feel when combined together.

ZAYN also turns away from his sensual song vibes with songs such as “fOoL fOr YoU” that is a love song. It demonstrates his skills as a pianist, and his skills as a male singer who has a wide vocal range. It’s a beautiful song filled with dedication towards another; this opens the door to a cutesy, upbeat song on the album in contrast to the dark, sexual side the listeners also hear on the album. He sings, “I just love being a fool for you… I’m a fool for you and the things, the things you do.” The song’s pace is one that could be turned into a slow dance, which further expresses its lovesick sentiments.

However, the mature tracks on the album outweigh the upbeat ones. One of the more underrated songs on the album is “TiO,” which stands for Take It Off. ZAYN sings, “I just want to watch you take it off; take off all your makeup baby take it off; I just want to watch you take it off; take off all your clothes and watch you take them off.” It’s song explicitly about sex, and how ZAYN and the woman he’s referring to, like it, habits and all. From his One Direction days, this is a huge plunge into a different direction that much more raw and enticing. With ZAYN’s vocal range of falsettos and high-pitched notes, the R&B subject content fit the vocal renditions. The song is dangerous, fun, and catchy. This could possibly be the dark knight for his next radio hit off the album.

There is no doubt that ZAYN’s boy-band days are left far behind him. He not only experiments with maturity in his lyrics, but ZAYN also demonstrates his vocal and artistic talent through slower songs, as well. Mind of Mine shows a rainbow of whom the artist ZAYN is, as his solo career is birthed in the music industry. His transition resembles Nick Jonas stemming from the Jonas Brothers. Both artists leaned towards an R&B sound in progression from their limited scope in a band. Expect to see much more from ZAYN as he continues to progress solo.