"Sweet baby, our sex has meaning," Zayn sings to begin the smooth, yacht-tastic "Let Me," the lead track on his second album, Icarus Falls. It's finally out as of Friday (December 14), and much like his 2016 debut, Mind of Mine, it's full of the hazy, soft R&B he first left One Direction to explore. There are moody showcases for Z to flex his golden voice, like the Malay-produced "Stand Still," and plenty of serene, tender moments of romantic abandon, like the skin-on-skin mentions on "Natural."
But none of those things are what you'll notice first. You might not even notice the cover art that much, honestly. But you'll certainly take note that Icarus Falls has 27 songs, and it's 88 minutes long. It's a beast.
For reference, Toy Story is only 81 minutes long. In fact, Vulture put together a really handy list of films under 90 minutes last year — Icarus Falls is longer than all of them. However, it is not, in fact, longer than Drake's Scorpion or Migos's Culture II, two behemoths likely designed to be sprawling in order to help boost chart performance.
Of course, Zayn released a whopping nine songs ahead of the album, dating back to April, so he kind of had to double, or in this case triple, down on music for the actual release. He notably didn't tour behind his first album also, giving himself time away from the rigors of the road to focus on himself. The dude had to show us what he's been up to.
Icarus Falls is worth spending some time with, letting each song sink in and finding your favorites. Throughout, Zayn shows the same kind of eagerness he flaunted for weeks on Instagram earlier this year when he teased a slew of new music. Likely some of that acoustic noodling ended up here as complete songs, which is kind of neat.
It's also remarkable how much Zayn sounds like Jeff Buckley on "Satisfaction," and it made me laugh how the album's only two features — Nicki Minaj on "No Candle No Light" and Timbaland on "Too Much" — are buried at the very end, like a reward for your dedicated patience.
There's a lot to dig into, so stream all 88 minutes of Icarus Falls above. It's perfect for a long car or train ride.