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Review: Zayn Malik 'Pillowtalk' Purposefully Isolates One Direction Fans [LISTEN]

by Carolyn Menyes   Jan 29, 2016 12:43 PM EST

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Zayn Malik is away from One Direction and all grown up. At midnight on the dot on Friday (Jan. 29), the former boy bander released his debut solo single "Pillowtalk," and it's safe to say that he's a long way from "What Makes You Beautiful."

Malik - who seems to be releasing music simply under the name ZAYN - is all grown up on "Pillowtalk." The song, which was reportedly penned about his ex-fiancée Perrie Edwards, is all about S-E-X, a topic that One Direction only ever slightly touched on in vague speak. But here Zayn is, singing about f*cking in the highest part of his register, belting it out in plain, crass language.

This song feels like the sort of thing one would release to break away from a bubblegum past. Think "We Can't Stop" or even JC Chasez's post-NSYNC single "Some Girls (Dance with Women)." It's purposefully provocative, even if Zayn's astonishingly good looks (which no amount of weird hair dye can wash away) remind you that he's pretty enough to be in a massive boy band. Though that's something he clearly wants you to forget.

Musically, you can hear a pseudo-Weeknd vibe in Zayn's music, and it's clear he's going for that PBR&B sound that music critics positively adore. It's also undeniable that Zayn was always the best singer in One Direction, and his smoky vocals and high soaring range blend in well with this genre of music. It's a better fit for his personal style than 1D ever was.

Is this song isolating for Zayn's younger One Direction fanbase? Absolutely, and that seems to be the point. Lyrically, musically and visually (with a NSFW music video), this is a major departue

"Pillowtalk" is the lead single from Zayn's forthcoming debut solo album Mind of Mine. The record is reportedly set to be released on March 25, exactly one year after he left One Direction.

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