Zayn Malik, remember him? The brooding ex-member of the beloved boy band One Direction? Well, Malik hinted at new music (via Instagram, where else) Tuesday morning, posting three brief video clips of previously unreleased material. In case you forgot, like most people did: Zayn released his extremely sleepy debut album, Mind of Mine, in 2016, and hasn’t released any solo material since—ignoring his bad Taylor Swift and Sia collaborations last year, of course.
Each Instagram tease lasts for about twenty seconds and doesn’t really give a sense of what direction (pun unintended) Malik is planning on going in. Captioned “singing,” (factually true if not redundant), Zayn’s voice is barely audible in the first clip, drowned out by echoing piano chords. The second and third are more of the same. Listen to the first below:
These brief snippets feel more promising than all of Mind of Mine, because that record sounded like a collection of lackluster, forgotten tracks by the Weeknd. (Admit it.) Intimacy was the mood he wanted to achieve (Zayn’s first solo single was titled “Pillowtalk,” in case he wasn’t obvious enough), but he did not succeed. To say the least.
Zayn—you’ll might recall, I won’t blame you if you don’t—was the first member of One Direction to go solo, the first to break free of the boy band system, in 2015. (He used his first foray as his own man to make uninspired r&b and give exceedingly boring interviews.) In 2016, 1D followed suit and called it quits. In 2017, we saw all Malik’s former bandmates try their hand at solo careers: Harry Styles found his inner classic rock dad with a Grammy snubbed self-titled debut, Liam Payne scored a Top 10 hit with “Strip That Down,” featuring Migos member Quavo, Niall Horan’s “This Town” and “Slow Hands” became inescapable, and even bad boy Louis Tomlinson released solo music. Zayn, post-One Direction, was free to make his own music and showed little innovation.
Maybe these Instagram clips prove that the best has yet to come? Perhaps they hint not only to new music, but that Zayn is really, finally ready to make a splash as a solo artist? That is...if you can even remember the guy whenever the next record drops.