After ZAYN left RCA Records in Autumn 2021, the Sony Music division which brought him the global success of his debut album ‘Mind of Mine’, there was skepticism as to whether or not he’d ever achieve chart commerciality again. Myself, among many other critics, thought his departure from a major label would certainly equate to ZAYN releasing music independently. Though the influence of TikTok virality and streaming services have since shown that independent artists don’t have to surrender any potential prospects of charting in order to maintain creative control over their music, as evidenced recently by the likes of RAYE, N-Dubz and Kylie Minogue, there’s no dispute that having a label backing offers a high degree of security and promotional opportunities. Yet, June 2023 served as Malik’s assertion that he is worthy of a position on the Universal roster. Specifically, this was the month ZAYN signed a coveted recording deal with Mercury and Republic Records, home to the likes of Ariana Grande, Post Malone and the Weeknd. The end result was Malik’s first solo single in two years, ‘Love Like This’.

Sonically, I would argue that this is one of ZAYN’s strongest ever releases. I’ve never heard a track which sounds so audibly cohesive, despite taking influence from a variety of different genres. As a soloist, ZAYN is first and foremost an R&B artist and though ‘Love Like This’ appropriately falls into that category of music, the electronic instrumentation and bouncy breakbeat infused but soft drop in the track’s chorus gives it a UK garage edge untypical of a solely R&B song. A fresh, cool sound not just for ZAYN, but for the airwaves of nationwide radio. Perhaps the experimental nature of this release can be credited to the equally experimental Monsters & Strangerz, the Miami based production team responsible for helping Malik craft this masterpiece. Of course, I’d expect nothing less from these guys, but perhaps that’s my bias, an agenda stemming from the fact that they’re responsible for producing some of my favourite pop/R&B releases of the last 6 years – Fifth Harmony’s self titled third LP, Burna Boy’s ‘Wild Dreams’ and Halsey’s ‘Graveyard’ to name a few.

This is a huge step in the right direction for Malik’s solo career. My expectations were completely and utterly exceeded and I’m so excited to hear more. My only critique would be that it’s not a lyrically substantial track, but the sonic and melodic highs more than make up for this. An easy four stars!


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