When most people think of boybands, they picture a processed group of pretty boys who make processed pop music for prepubescent girls. That stigma itself is sometimes enough to deter people from even giving their music a chance, and is certainly an oppressive idea to members who wish to stay true to their creativity. In his new album Mind of Mine, ex-boyband member Zayn has proven that breaking away from a processed pop sound can be not only a good career move, but one that allows the preservation of originality that’s filtered out in a group setting.

The album starts with “MiNd of MiNdd (Intro)”, a mellow introduction that gives a taste of the new sound Zayn is presenting. Next is the hit single that took the pop scene by storm, “PILLOWTALK”. The track was a safe but rebellious exposure to his original style, with echoes of pop in the chorus but more edgy and distinct verses. Though a majority of the album has a quicker tempo, he occasionally changes the mood with songs like “iT’s YoU” and “BLUE”. The soothing sound and romantic lyrics of both hit home for those who have been anticipating lovey-dovey tracks that inspire sweet fangirl-esque daydreams. The differing flavors of the album prove that there has been underlying originality behind Zayn’s persona, which is just being artistically showcased now.

Zayn’s R&B soul is demonstrated in the track “wRoNg” featuring Kehlani. The contagious beat and smooth harmony of both artist’s voices create a piece that is appealing to old and new fans alike. The majority of the album is a pleasant surprise, but the most unique track is “fLoWer,” the intermission of the album. Sung in Urdu, the attempt is considered the focal point of his career thus far for fans of Desi descent and a possible indicator of further cultural work from Zayn. The rest of the album features other tracks with sultry lyrics and mature vibe, such as “TiO,” “LIKE I WOULD” “lUcOzAdE,” and more.

As a whole, the album functions almost as an act of denunciation of Zayn’s previous work and image. His new sex-driven style is clearly targeted towards an older audience, and makes it very clear that he will be keeping things PG-13 at the very least. His success is an indicator that staying true to your creativity can sometimes work to your advantage. Instead of oppressing controversial individuality, Mind of Mine is a prime example of how embracing that can result in the creation of a provocatively effective piece of art.

 

(by Mumal Tunio)

Written by Catherine Powell

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