By Lauren Lopez
If you’re looking for baby pictures of Zayn Malik, you probably wouldn’t expect to find them in stores. But on March 25, Malik’s baby picture lined the shelves of stores as the cover of his debut solo album, Mind of Mine.
The obvious difference between his baby pictures and the album cover is the tattoos adorning his arms. Perhaps the young appearance is meant to signify the beginning of his new career while the tattoos show that he still has permanent markings from his time with One Direction.
Looking at the track list is enough to make any English student cry. All of the song titles are spelled with alternating capital and lowercase letters, except for the second track and last three songs, which are written in all capitals. The album opens up with “MiNd Of MiNdd (Intro)” that says, “Now that I’m on the edge / I can’t find my way / It’s inside of my mind of mine.”
This fifty-five second intro fades almost seamlessly into “PILLOWTALK,” which contrasts the quieter tones of the first track. Malik then places two more of his singles one after another in this order: the slower “iT’s YoU” followed by the upbeat “BeFoUr.” (Malik released the music video for “BeFoUr” shortly after his album.)
Many believe Malik is calling out his former bandmates with the seemingly deliberate spelling of his song “BeFoUr”—Four was his last album with One Direction. The song also features lyrics that support this theory, such as the following: “Time for me to move up / so many hours have gone.”
While all the songs are capable of standing alone, together they create a nearly symphonic cycle of sounds easy for listeners to get lost in. “sHe” and “dRuNk” are two prominent examples of this. You can hardly hear the separation. The lyrics are also cohesive; one is about falling in love and the other speaks of being in love.
“INTERMISSION: fLoWer” sticks out the most from the rest of the album, because it is sung in Urdu. According to an article on NME, the lyrics are as follows: “‘Jab tak is mohabbat ke phool na khilay / Tab tak is dill ko sukoon na miley’ (Until the flower of this love has blossomed / This heart won’t be at peace).” The flower reference is reminiscent of the imagery in Malik’s music video for “PILLOWTALK.”
After the spiritual intermission, which connects the listener to a very personal part of his life, Malik opens up with a few more instrumentally heavy songs—“rEaR vIeW” and “wRoNg.” The two tracks respond to each other with their lyrics: “Can your heart be mine in search / ‘Cause I have no time to help you find” and “You’re looking in the wrong place for my love.” The difference, however, is that “wRoNg” features the voice of American R&B singer Kehlani.
The piano heavy “fOoL fOr YoU” definitely merits the title “angsty.” It almost sounds like a wedding song, but the lyrics “this love is tainted” probably make it better for a song on a break up playlist.
“tRuTh” stays true to its name by revealing the truth behind the rumors that surfaced after he left One Direction: “This ain’t my scene / This wasn’t my dream / It was all yours.” This time, it seems to be talking less to his former bandmates and possibly more to the record label and management involved in forming the band.
The two strangest tracks in terms of names are “lUcOzAdE” and “TiO.” Lucozade is the name of an energy drink and judging by the lyrics, “TiO” is an acronym for “take it off.”
“BLUE” brings the album back to a sadder tone, using soft vocals and piano accompaniment. “BRIGHT” combines this sound with a lot of the beats found in the rest of the album. It’s not loud enough to be a club song, but it does share some other characteristics, like references to drug usage, so it’s probably not something to listen to at family gatherings either.
“BRIGHT” and “LIKE I WOULD” are reminiscent of the earlier pair “sHe” and “dRuNk,” as it’s almost impossible to separate them when listening to them in succession. “LIKE I WOULD” is more upbeat. Malik turns the ballad in a upbeat tune about sex. Reading the lyrics and listening to the song offer two different experiences, as the lyrics are more unsure and sad than the tune. (The song was released as a single and performed on The Tonight Show the night the album dropped.)
This album, released on the one year anniversary of his departure from One Direction, definitely meets the hype of Malik’s much-anticipated solo career.
Fans can purchase the album on iTunes or listen on Spotify. Target also released a version of the album that contains two exclusive bonus tracks, “DO SOMETHING GOOD” and “GOLDEN.”