Zayn - Icarus Falls

64

Pitchfork

Zayn’s reputation as a skillful interpreter of pop is tested on his second solo album, a tome of love songs with a concept that hinges on excess and its trickery.

Tue Dec 18 07:00:00 CET 2018

60

The Guardian

(RCA)

Former One Direction-er Zayn Malik’s first solo album in 2016 had a mixed reception. His rebranding to R&B-pop made sense, and vocally and production-wise, it was undoubtedly accomplished – but puerile lyrics and lack of conciseness let it down. With this context, it’s hard to believe Malik’s second full-length won’t be plagued by the same issues: the opening line is “Sweet baby, our sex has meaning” and the record comprises 27 songs (90 minutes).

But once you accept the intimidating length and occasional clumsy lyric (see: “An attack of the mind / like Optimus Prime in his prime”), there’s plenty here to appreciate. When he’s not pouring forth a gorgeous falsetto, the British-Pakistani’s vocals often channel melismatic Bollywood/qawwali-style singing with easy fluidity. The length of the release makes it feel more “playlist” than album, unified by glossy production, and it allows Malik to attempt a variety of styles: There You Are is as close as he gets to soaring 1D pop, All That is shiny and glitchy, while Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)-sampling Good Guy swirls with striking atmosphere as Malik warns he’s not who you think he is. It was easy to assume Icarus Falls might end up an exercise in hubris, but Malik is defying expectations, remaining in ascent.

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Sun Dec 23 09:15:20 CET 2018