ZAYN’s Massive ‘Icarus Falls’ Arrives: Stream It In Full Here
The hunt for Zayn Malik’s sophomore album is finally over. The 25-year-old has been teasing a follow-up to his 2016 debut for more than a year now. We’ve gotten nine buzz tracks (10 if you count the Sia-assisted “Dusk Till Dawn”). It got to the point where I was relatively certain we’d uncover Atlantis and the Fountain of Eternal Youth before we got the LP. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. His latest effort, titled Icarus Falls, arrived today (December 14). Comprised of a weighty 27 tracks, it provides just under 90 minutes of listening. And aside from previously heard collaborations with Nicki Minaj (“No Candle No Light”) and Timbaland (“Too Much”) it is all ZAYN, all the time.
Thanks to the lengthy release schedule – one of the longest in recent memory – we’re already familiar with a good chunk of the material. What we’ve heard showcases the former boy bander’s versatility. “Let Me” and “Entertainer” are velvety R&B offerings that feature him at his most sensual. Meanwhile, he lusts over a serious femme fatale on the rock-infused “Sour Diesel.” The strings give serious Stevie Wonder “Superstition” vibes, but ZAYN’s take has been much more polarizing. I like it, for what it’s worth. The eerie “Fingers” sees him lamenting the state of love in the digital age. On “Rainberry” he dusts off his falsetto to put a lover on blast.
“Good Years” is a gut-wrenching ballad that highlights ZAYN’s breathtaking vocals. “I’d rather be anywhere, anywhere but here. I close my eyes and see a crowd of a thousand tears,” he sings. “I pray to God I didn’t waste all my good years.” Although on the surface it seems like a breakup anthem, some fans think it may address doubts about his time with One Direction. Either way, the overarching theme is infinitely relatable. “There You Are,” the LP’s final buzz track, is a sweeping pop anthem. Here, he celebrates a lover who is always by his side. “Losing myself, but then I hear you calling,” he belts. “There you are. You’re there with open arms,” he later declares on the chorus.
The rest of the album is just as eclectic. His falsetto is back at full effect on the passionate “Natural.” On it, he compares his relationship to a force of nature. “It feels so natural when we come together,” he proclaims over smooth beats. Frank Ocean’s frequent collaborator Malay is back in action. After contributing several songs to Mind Of Mine, he adds three tracks to the mix here. The first of which being “Stand Still,” an atmospheric midtempo I’ll likely have on repeat. The first half of the LP is largely comprised of silky love songs. However, a shift comes at the halfway point – “Icarus Interlude.” On the track he pulls from mythology to depict the darker side of things.
“Call me Icarus. I guess I flew too close to the sun,” he laments. ZAYN takes a turn toward the darker and more experimental on the latter half of the album. Several highlights emerge in the process. “Good Guy” interpolates the strings from Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).” Over a growling production he offers a warning to a potential lover. “Don’t you fall for me, girl. I’m not the right kind,” he pleads. “I’m a bad man. I will do all I can to keep you by my side.” Meanwhile, “Satisfaction” borrows from The Rolling Stone’s song of the same name. “Fresh Air” feels particularly barbed with its sharp percussion and frustrated lyrics.
“You could be a changed man if you wanted. You could make doves cry if you wanted,” he sings before reaching a final verdict. “You and me got differences.” There’s a lot to take in, and it will require repeated listening sessions to get the full scope of ZAYN’s sophomore release. But it is definitely worth the effort. Take a deep breath, grab a snack and dive in below!
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