For the first time ever, Liam Payne has released a solo album. On Dec. 6, Payne debuted LP1, a record consisting of 16 upbeat, ultimately messy, pop songs.
In 2010, Payne launched his musical career as a member of One Direction, a highly successful boy band that grew a sizeable fanbase in their five years together as a group. After One Direction split in 2015 and Payne’s boy band counterparts began releasing chart-topping solo music of their own, fans began anticipating his promised album. Now, several years after hinting it was in the works but was delayed due to the birth of his son, the album is finally here, and it is disappointing, to say the least.
The album opens with “Stack It Up (feat. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie),” a bouncy, club-fun track that loses its potential with distractingly childish lyrics. Singing “I don’t wanna be broke when I D-I-E, wanna be livin’ it up in V-I-P,” the mature sound Payne had in his final boy band days is long forgotten, retreating to a materialistic and money-driven approach that is more unpleasant than his admitted goal of a “flex.”
The album continues with “Remember,” a mellow pop song where Payne becomes sentimental recalling somebody who is no longer in his life. While the message of the song is touching and is perhaps the gentlest track on the album, it feels like it might have been more successful as a slower piano ballad. Lyrics such as “How can I forget someone who gave me so much to remember?” make the quick pace of the song distract from the depth of the message Payne is trying to convey — a message the album desperately needed alongside its otherwise crude content.
Later down the track list is “Both Ways,” a song that created controversy on the internet within hours of being released. The overall arrangement of the slow, synthesized track is sloppy, but the lyrics are particularly unpleasant. Singing “My girl, she like it both ways,” Payne sings about a girl who is attracted to both men and women, continuing to say he likes how she is “different.” By fetishizing the woman’s interests for the purpose of a more seductive track, the outcome is ultimately uncomfortable and disturbing: a song that might leave listeners wishing they had never heard it.
The album concludes with “Bedroom Floor,” the second single from the album and a buoyant melody that is bogged down by its repetitiveness. Though steel pans make for a pleasantly uncommon introduction, repeatedly singing “You said it was over, but your clothes say different on my bedroom floor” for the entire duration of the chorus makes the song boring and linear, an underwhelming conclusion that did little to tie the chaotic album together.
Ultimately, LP1 is somehow as highly unpleasant as it was highly anticipated. Containing cheery songs contradicted by unsettling lyrics and a lack of structure, it is clear Payne has veered far away from his boy band roots with a painfully unsuccessful launch to a solo career — a decision that simply just went in the wrong direction.
2 out of 5 stars