“Nobody is Listening”, For Real

Zayn Malik’s third solo studio album was a swing and an absolute miss.

The album cover for Zayn Malik's third solo album. It has its moments, but overall fell short.

Courtesy of RZA records

The album cover for Zayn Malik’s third solo album. It has its moments, but overall fell short.

Aubrey Smith, Staff Writer

Artist Zayn Malik released his newest album, “Nobody is Listening” this past January and it is outrageously British. This is obviously not a good way to review something as it holds no value or discernible meaning, so I will only bring it up a few times, but it was almost all I thought of when first listening.

“Mind of Mine”, his solo debut, set the expectations high for future works, followed by “Icarus Falls” which was a disappointment to some, but this album took a step in a different direction. With “Nobody is Listening” he leans much more into an R&B sound compared to his previous pop-heavy albums and fans are still wondering what he wants his sound to be.

The opening track “Calamity” is best described as a spoken word deep dive into his mind, a “prison” as he refers to it. It is not something to play at a party but if I’m sitting in the dark thinking about how miserable life is I would definitely turn it up.

Malik immediately switches the pace with “Better” which comes in with a bedroom pop sound as he sings about leaving a relationship while there is still love for one another, before it gets to a place of hate. This song beautifully shows off Malik’s vocal talent which gets lost in some of his music.

The album in whole is reflective of his relationship with supermodel and new mother to their child, Gigi Hadid. The two have been on-and-off since late 2015 and the turmoil turned tranquil nature of their relationship is evident in the structure of the track list.

The third track “Outside” has Malik begging someone to take him back intertwined with reminiscence of a past relationship. The chorus is superficial, asking her repeatedly to “leave my life outside/or let me in,” but the song is an easy listen.

The lead single “Vibez”, track four, lacks creativity in title and in sound. In one of the verses he throws in an homage to his first solo album “Mind of Mine”, but that is about as far as the similarities between the two albums go.

“When Love’s Around”, featuring artist Syd, is incredibly boring. Boring to the point where one feels a deep desire to skip it. That being said, they both sound lovely. The issue is that the song lacks lyrical depth as so much of this album does. Over and over “cause when love is around” repeats, lulling listeners to sleep.

Leading into the bottom half of the album, the song “Connexion” has a really epic name that leads one to believe the song will follow suit. However, the track itself plays like an old Ed Sheeran song, neither bad nor good, just a whole lot of falsetto and instrumental.

“Sweat” is not a song I will be diving into lyrically but to put it simply it’s as if you slowed down “Love Me Again” by John Newman but made it rated R.

If you’re looking for a #GirlBoss anthem, look no further than “Unf*ckwitable”. This mellow track is all about being completely unbothered and above all negativity. It is okay I suppose, if you’re into that kind of stuff.

“Windowsill” featuring Devlin is lyrically similar to “Sweat” but I must admit it has a much better sound. With the addition of Devlins road rap verse, this album has secured its spot as the most aggressively British album I’ve ever heard from someone who wrote it while living in Connecticut.

Moving on, “Tightrope” has a delicate sound and tells a beautiful story about accepting love. It is one of the only songs off the track list where the simplicity of the lyrics actually adds to it. In my opinion it is the best song off the album.

The last track off the album “River Road” connects back to “Calamity” in a wonderful way that gives the album a satisfying sense of closure. Malik has been searching for something to give his life meaning and he has found this love that does just that.

With the final lyric of the album Malik asks “don’t you ever hope for something else.” This grim philosophical inquiry is revealing regret over some mistakes in his relationship but also, when considering the lead track “Calamity”, he asks if the fame was really worth it or if life would’ve been better had he gone down a different path.

Malik has infamously struggled with his quick rise to fame in One Direction and his mental health suffered greatly from his time in the spotlight. With minimal promotion, interviews, or performances, he has managed to convey that his solo career is only about making music, not about fame.

Disregarding the leading track, this album feels like it was created for people to listen to, not to take an introspective look at his own self. The tracks are reflective of a huge part of his life but they are very shallow and catchy, attributing to Malik’s desire to remain as much out of the public eye as possible.

Have you heard the saying “no skip album”? This is not one of those. The highlights of this album are “Tightrope”, “Better”, and “River Road”, the rest is somewhat forgettable. Malik is still looking for his sound, drifting from the classic pop sound to R&B. With his incredible vocals he can make anything sound good but fans might need to wait a little longer for him to find the genre that best suits his talents.