It’s been four years since One Direction went on an “indefinite hiatus” following the brisk departure of Zayn Malik. And while most of the band quickly established themselves as solo artists, Liam Payne found himself on another path, fatherhood, welcoming a son with then-girlfriend Cheryl Cole in 2017. The transformative experience, furthered by a few years out of the global spotlight and a year of sobriety in 2018, helped the singer-songwriter discover his own voice. His long-awaited debut album, the playful and flirtatious LP1, feels like a colorful scan of today’s top sounds.
There are skittering trap textures (“Both Ways”), EDM largesse (he links up with Zedd and Cheat Codes), low-slung hip-hop beats (“Strip That Down” featuring Quavo), and Latin-pop melodies (“Familiar” featuring J Balvin). There are also brooding piano ballads (“Say It All”), sultry synth-pop numbers (“Bedroom Floor”), an ode to making bank (“Stack It Up”), and even a Christmas song (“All I Want [For Christmas]”) that blends the desperate pleas of a breakup song with New Year’s optimism. If Payne is eager to prove he can do it all—live it up, get the girls, cash in—this project makes a strong case that he can.