Zayn Malik is using his post-One Direction life for two important things: creative capitalization and tender, R&B-inspired slow jams. Tossing aside the saccharine sound he shared with Styles & Co., Zayn (needlessly stylized as ZAYN) has embraced his standing as “the mysterious one,” as described by Harriet Gibsone in The Guardian. With this self-directed intrigue comes such heartthrob-y tunes as last week’s “BeFoUr.”
“So say what you wanna say,” Zayn croons. Say what you wanna say about One Direction’s cheesiness, their accessibility or their major label camp. “BeFoUr” reminds us why Simon Cowell assembled 1D in the first place — they’re damn talented. Zayn’s infectious vocals float delicately over the single’s sparse electronic instrumentals, wistful and distant until he takes full tonal control over the bridge. As successful as breezy boy band ditties made him (see: “What Makes You Beautiful”), he truly shines when embracing the melancholy. Zayn left 1D so he could have room to breathe, and “BeFoUr” is the embodiment of the man — not boy — he has matured into.
Mike Sosnick is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.