News Desk |
It’s been two years since One Direction’s Zayn Malik released his debut album Mind of Mine. The British Pakistani enjoyed great success after he left One Direction and with his debut single Pillowtalk topping charts worldwide. Since then he’s mostly been off the radar, canceling his debut tour due to health issues and staying out of the spotlight following the release of Mind of Mine.
In fact, his sophomore album Icarus Falls — out everywhere — was preceded by an uncommon 9 single, none of which got properly promoted. Suffice it to say, Malik isn’t a fan of being in the public eye and it is his music that truly allows fans to get to know the soulful singer. And with a hefty 27 tracks, Icarus Falls is certainly a big and explanatory record.
Starting with Let Me, the first portion of the album is the standard romantic shtick you expect from R&B singers like Zayn and The Weeknd. But with his signature falsetto and ease with high notes, Malik successfully distinguishes himself from others treading similar stylistic waters. It’s a credit to Malik and his producers that across the 27 tracks, the tone and feel of the album feel particularly right.
Read more: Shocking: Zayn Malik is not a Muslim anymore
In fact, that may just be the only weakness with the album, it is the kind of record you play in the back and not notice, and while all are very pleasant to hear, there isn’t one particularly that would jolt you out of slumber. The first part of the album could be called an ode to girlfriend Gigi Hadid whom he has been in a relationship with for the past three years.
And songs like ‘Common’, ‘Imprint, ‘Talk to Me’, ‘There You Are’ and ‘Tonight’ deftly capture Zayn’s trademark sensual vibes in all its R&B trappings with just the right amount of pop thrown in to appeal to his former 1D fan base. ‘There You Are’ and ‘Tonight’, two of the most upbeat songs of the album, are easily the most radio-friendly of the entire album and may just get the single and music video treatment sooner than you think.
And following the smoky interlude where he compares himself to Icarus, the album moves along to the second part where Zayn is decidedly more personal and rebellious. ‘Good Guy’, the song sampling Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) isn’t as effective as it would seem on paper. ‘You Wish You Knew’ and ‘Entertainer’ fare significantly better with Malik’s brooding vocals and slick production resulting in mellow jams. ‘Sour Diesel’ also works quite well and sonically distinguishes itself from much of Icarus Falls.
The second part of the album is also interesting because of how Malik allows himself to be more vulnerable, dropping his ‘bad boy’ persona on tracks like ‘Good Years’, ‘Fresh Air’. The former is perceived by fans as One Direction diss track but ironically sounds the most like a song from the later albums of the British pop group.
There are of course collaborations, Nicki Minaj on ‘No Candle No Light’ and Timbaland on ‘Too Much’, but both artists are criminally underutilized. Besides Icarus Falls is really about Zayn, in a way that we haven’t see him before. While Mind of Mine hid the artist behind a veil of sex-fueled moody earworms, Icarus Falls is a more personal but just as striking record.