Since announcing their split in 2016, One Direction’s members have tried to forge careers as solo artists. Zayn Malik has released two albums; there’s been impressive guitar-led efforts from Harry Styles; and Niall Horan has put out two records of his own to a generally positive reception.
Now we have Liam Payne’s attempt to break out of the 1D shadow with LP1, and – we’re going there – it’s Payne-ful.
Initially it feels like Payne’s trying to mimic his ex- bandmates. Remember uses the plucked acoustic guitar approach Styles pulled off so well. The icy tones of Heart Meet Break, and downbeat electro-pop of Tell Your Friends could be mistaken for Malik B-sides.
Payne shows a hint of promise halfway through. His overwrought delivery on Say It All is saved by gritty keys, while the synth-wave vibe of Rude Hours suits his slower, melodic vocals.
With countless songwriters and producers on every cut, it’s no wonder the record is devoid of personality. The tracks Ed Sheeran was involved with – Stack It Up and Strip That Down – just sound like Payne singing Sheeran karaoke.
In all, LP1 amounts to just another sets of tracks destined for the trap-pop scrap heap, with a single, unwavering, watered-down mood. What’s worse, Payne throws in six dated (2017 and 2018) collaborations, with no thought as to how these work together. The whole project reeks of half-hearted laziness.
The most worrying part? The “1” in the title that suggests there’s more to come.