Liam Payne, One Direction alum, Hugo Boss underwear model, and father to Bear Payne, has finally given the world his debut solo album, LP1. Most likely, the world will want to find any and every possible way to return this album to its sender.
LP1 clocks in at around 55 minutes over the course of 17 tracks. Not a single minute of this collection of subpar songs contributes anything new to the pop music landscape or reveals anything about Liam Payne (the person and the artist). If anything, LP1 feels like a half-baked attempt to position Liam as the Jason Derulo of the 2020s. The album is stacked to the brim with easily digestible pop confections that are heavily influenced 2010s R&B and hip-hop. Here’s the thing, though, to be the next Derulo, Liam has to sing these songs with an inimitable charisma and really convince the audience that these are songs that we should love. In his defense, the songs themselves have to actually be good to warrant any type of conviction in his vocal performance.
Liam’s campaign for this album started all the way back in 2017 with the release of his debut solo single, “Strip That Down (feat. Quavo).” It was the music world’s first taste of solo Liam, and the finger-snapping hip-hop/pop track was basic but still enjoyable. Ever since then, and this is not an exaggeration, it has all been downhill. Liam then followed up “Strip” with the most forgettable single from the Fifty Shades franchise, “For You (with Rita Ora)””; one of the worst J Balvin collaborations ever (“Familiar”); a lukewarm Zedd collaboration (“Get Low”); and a reductive mid tempo entitled “Bedroom Floor.” It really isn’t surprising that it took Liam and his team two years to launch this record. For one, none of the songs, the pre-released singles and the remaining album tracks, are strong enough or were successful enough to introduce a debut solo album. Furthermore, in the streaming world, letting songs build up hundred of millions of streams to fastrack their RIAA certifications upon release is now a tried and true strategy. They even added Liam’s original Christmas song, “All I Want (For Christmas),” to this non-holiday studio album.
All of the songs on LP1 are in the same vein: sex, money, and the search for love, but only when the sex and money start to get boring. Unsurprisingly, this all culminates in one of the most reductive and derivative albums in recent memory. None of the songs are good enough to justify the existence of this album. LP1 is less of a vehicle to showcase Liam’s artistry, and more of a way to convince the world that he is the sexiest bachelor to ever exist on Planet Earth. On “Hips Don’t Lie,” Liam tells a nameless girl not to “be giving [me] the eye/Unless you got what [I] need,” and on “Rude Hours” he sings “Yeah, might be a bad idea, I prob’ly do your ass in the car.” But, wait there’s more! “Both Ways,” a track that fetishizes a girl’s bisexuality, features the lyrics “My girl, she like it both ways/She like the way it all taste/Couple more, we’ll call it foreplay.” Maybe Liam really is the almighty irresistible lothario he so desperately wants us to believe he is. If that is the case, the songwriting has to be more unique and the music has to be more interesting to be even a little bit convincing. Look at The Weeknd’s bewitching blend of electronica, hip-hop, & R&B or Miguel’s tender yet intense songwriting. They brought something new to the table; Liam is just reheating and stripping the seasoning from their leftovers.
LP1 isn’t all bad. Liam’s ability to create an album so devoid of personality and finesse is truly impressive. On a serious note, the melody on “Heart Meet Break” is really catchy, the song should have been longer! Liam is also a formidable singer. He has a nice voice but constricts it with a surplus of Auto-Tune and boring song structures. That’s about it on the positive side for this album. It’s truly a shame, Liam was part of one of the biggest boy bands of all time, is a young father, and full of potential. Unfortunately, he chose to waste all this potential on a genuinely abhorrent mess of an album.
Key Tracks: N/A