A relentlessly creative but nonetheless mixed return...
'Icarus Falls'

An amalgamation of moods - from one of love, moving into excitement to poignant reminiscence about an ex - Zayn Malik’s second studio album ‘Icarus Falls’ is stocked full charisma, his signature R&B influences, and much more ambition than his first foray into a solo career.

The former member of The World's Biggest Boyband debuted as a solo artist in 2016 with ‘Mind Of Mine’ which was critically and commercially acclaimed, but within ‘Icarus Falls’ he comes into his own across 27 tracks that explore a spectrum of musical styles and sentiments. Starting off strong with love-laden 'Let Me' the album leaves you with the anticipation of repeat-worthy songs that seem sure to follow. And the breezy 'Natural' that comes next doesn’t disappoint as it jumps out at you through the speakers.

While tracks like 'Back To Life' and 'Entertainer' remain impactful as they stand out for the depth of its lyricism. But the pace of the production slows as tracks such as 'Common', 'Imprint', 'Stand Still' and 'Flight Of The Stars' move on from one to another without notice, as they seem to merge into one single love song that remain forgettable.

However, the album manages to veer back into being an attention-worthy offering with “Tonight”, as ZAYN showcases the vocals that got him famous in the first place. Love is a strong theme in 'Icarus Falls' - whether that be the sweet side like in 'Let Me' and 'Tonight' or exploring the dark sides of the overwhelming feeling in tracks 'Good Guy' and 'Fresh Air'.

Three-quarters of the way in, 'If I Got You' manages to become a stand-out, before 'Talk To Me' and 'There You Are' continue the streak. 'I Don’t Mind' is a welcome change as its slow-build soundscape leaves you with a sense of calm; one that carries on into the haunting halfway mark of the album 'Icarus Interlude'.

Past this point ZAYN showcases his abilities no-holds-barred, as the subtly emotional 'You Wish You Knew', 80’s influenced bass-heavy 'Sour Diesel' and R&B club tune 'Rainberry' and jazz-tinged 'Scripted', set the final tone for the album.

Collaborations make an appearance toward the tail end of the production as 'No Candle No Light' featuring Nicki Minaj and final track 'Too Much' featuring Timbaland play out the last notes of this mosaic of emotions and talent. The name Icarus of course comes from the Greek myth of the optimist that flew too close to the sun and met his end as a result. But with 'Icarus Falls', the 25-year-old singer of past teen adulation manages to fly high without burning out.

The story of Icarus is one of tragedy, but there’s only signs of success within this offering as ZAYN begins the journey to realising his full potential.

7/10

Words: Malvika Padin

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