Urban Contemporary, 2016
I am not joking when I tell you that this album contains songs that are stylized as: MiNd Of MiNdd, iT’s YoU, BeFoUr, sHe, dRuNk, rEaR vIeW, and so forth. It is as if, in trying too hard to shed himself of his “I’m tainted by boyband cooties” image, the young fellow formerly known as Zayn Malik has embraced instead the doodling style of a five-year old. Don’t be fooled by the CD cover, though, this one isn’t about the joys of living inside the head of an autistic five-year old as much as it is about sex. The CD cover may as well be telling you that this is the brat that will pop out of your hoo-haw nine months after having unprotected sex with him.
Mr Zayn really wants to be like Justin Timberlake, in the sense that he really wants to make it and make the world forget that he was ever in a boyband, and it shows here, from his affected enunciation and falsetto to the choice of music present here. While Timbaland has no finger in Zayn’s pie, the riffs and hooks can create the same “I really, really, really want to be a successful solo singer after quitting my boyband past” vibes. However, while Mr Timberlake wanted to be Michael Jackson in his debut effort, here, Mr Zayn seems to prefer channeling some Usher and Marvin Gaye vibes: he really wants you to get in the mood.
The songs here are actually pretty good. Like I Would, iT’s YoU, and BeFoUr are all solid tunes that have me feel like moving along with the grooves he is serving. But the most potent track has to be Pillowtalk, which sees Mr Zayn channeling full force all the sexy mojo he has learned during his days of dancing awkwardly with four other dudes on stage. This song doesn’t have a whiff of trying-too-hard vibes of the other songs, and instead, it’s just this sultry voice on the speakers getting all Marvin Gaye on me. The words are pretty cringe-inducingly corny:
A place that is so pure, so dirty and raw
Be in the bed all day, bed all day, bed all day
Fucking in, fighting on
It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone
But with that voice, that jam, and that vibe… ooh. I’m pretty embarrassed to catch myself biting my lower lip while listening to that song.
Too much of Mind of Mine is trying too hard to the point that it is almost a desperate effort from a young man who wants to prove that he is now man enough to impregnate every woman in the Northern Hemisphere. But the songs are pretty good, regardless, and sometimes, like in Pillowtalk, he scores a home run, although the jury is still out whether that is by design or by accident. Is he a wannabe or a Marvin Gaye-like player in the making? Who knows. Lose that aNnOyInG stylings and forced pretensions, give me more Pillowtalk, and I may start to care to find out.