Zayn Malik has already had a weird year. He released six new singles, and all of them failed. Spectacularly.
Now the former One Direction star has included the half dozen tries on a new, somber 27 track album called “Icarus Falls.” Zayn, you see, has flown too close to the sun with One Direction and as solo act. He had a hit album in 2016 called “Mind of Mine.” He had a hit single called “Pillowtalk.” He had an even bigger hit last year on a duet with Taylor Swift from a “50 Shades of Grey” Movie. He has had a hit girlfriend, model Gigi Hadid. (That hit may have fallen off the charts.)
So he thinks he has a lot to prove with “Icarus Falls.” The digital version has arrived at number 3 on iTunes this morning, blocked from number 1 by a country album and by Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway soundtrack. He’s already released three more tracks from the album, bringing the number of advance singles, promo or otherwise, to 9 out of the 27. Well, that still leaves 16. And that’s a lot.
Early listenings bring this conclusion: “Icarus” is mopey. Zayn is not a dance guy. The tracks are mostly spare, low key efforts. Some are very catchy. I like “Common” and “Imprint” right off the bat. (He doesn’t like long titles.) One of the current 3 singles, “Good Years,” is about his career so far and is written by Herbie Critchlow, who gave the Backstreet Boys some of their best songs. It’s worth several spins as it sets in. “Sour Diesel,” from that group of 6, I always liked. “I Don’t Mind” and “You Wish You Knew” have potential. Maybe “Rainberry” can become a flavor at Pinkberry.
I root for Zayn. In person, he’s a lovely, shy guy. He’s very earnest and serious. He wants us to take him seriously. I wish “Icarus Falls” had a little humor, or something totally frivolous. But this is what we’ve got. And damn it, we’re going to like it.