Release Date: Dec 6, 2019
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Pop, Vocal, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop
First Zayn, then Harry and Niall, and finally -- nearly four years after the split of U.K. boy band One Direction -- former member Liam Payne unveiled his official full-length debut, 2019's LP1. Under construction since 2017, the set smartly includes all of his previously released hit singles, including the multi-platinum global smash "Strip That Down" with Quavo, which joins fresh material that charts Payne's bittersweet trials with love ("Remember," "Heart Meet Break," "All I Want (For Christmas)"), his robust sex life ("Rude Hours" and "Both Ways"), and a youthful, party-loving lifestyle ("Hips Don't Lie," "Weekend").
One Direction was famously assembled because Simon Cowell and his fellow X-Factor judges didn't have much faith in the boys' potential as solo artists. If Liam Payne's debut, released more than a decade after the band's televised genesis, is any indication, Cowell was right. Payne is, at best, competent. His voice is pleasant but not especially charismatic.
F inding your identity as a solo artist after handing your teenage years over to a pop band can be notoriously tricky. Liam Payne, One Direction's erstwhile resident safe pair of hands, seems to have settled on a curious, Unilad-sponsored approximation of Ed Sheeran (who co-writes two songs here) and Drake, eschewing his Wolverhampton roots to become Miami's least convincing playboy. On the abysmal Rude Hours, one of a handful of generic trap bops, he coos: "Meet me in the parking lot...