A year after the announcement of his departure from British boy band One Direction, Zayn Malik has released his debut solo effort Mind of Mine.

Mind of Mine sees Zayn transitioning from young heartthrob to R&B bad boy. The album contains lyrical themes of love, sex, and dissociation. The lead single, “Pillowtalk”, reintroduced Zayn to the world when it hit airwaves this past February. It sets the overall theme of the album; unapologetically sexual and human.

While the fair majority of the album isn’t exactly mainstream friendly, songs such as “Drunk”, “Like I Would”, and the Kehlani-assisted “Wrong” could serve as potential follow-up singles to “Pillowtalk”.

My personal favorite “TIO”(Which is an acronym short for “Take it Off”), is a perfect bedroom jam to share either with a significant other, or a one-night stand.

The track “BeFour” sees Zayn channelling 2009 Drake and is thought to be about his departure from One Direction, with lyrics such as “So say what you wanna say…shame is, you won’t say that to my face.”

Songs such as “Drunk”, “Blue” and “It’s You” are slow jams, and show off Zayn’s extensive vocal range.

Overall, the record has more of a late 90’s/Early 2000’s feel to it. It doesn’t really sound like the mainstream R&B that’s happening now (i.e. The Weeknd, Bryson Tiller, etc.), but it sounds reminiscent of Justin Timberlake and Confessions-era Usher.

As far as pop releases go, Mind of Mine is the best of 2016 so far. Albeit more nostalgic than game-changing, the album sees Zayn finally having more creative control of the music he’s making. Each track transitions smoothly into the next and tells a vivid story.

Rating: 4/5

Download Recommendations: “Pillowtalk”,”Drunk”,”Wrong (feat. Kehlani)”, “Like I Would”, “It’s You”, “Fool For You”, “Like I Would”