- Kathleen Maurer
Album Review: Nobody Is Listening by Zayn
Zayn just released a new album titled, Nobody Is Listening. This 11 track album has been rumored since his release of “Better” in September of 2020. It is truly unlike anything that Zayn has released before but it is definitely fitting for his style.
Nobody Is Listening takes you on a journey of relationship troubles and self doubt. This album holds a really mellow vibe with the exception of only a couple songs. Most of the songs are relatively slow and use a more forward melody putting his vocals in the background of many of his songs creating a shadow within his music.
Zayn starts his album with the blues influenced song “Calamity”. This track is reminiscent of a poetry reading in a jazz club. The slow hitting of the high hat, light piano additions, and sorrowful bass allow for a spoken word rap to act as the vocals for the track. Zayn speaks of self doubt and existential dread. He asks, “Can I resist the dark abyss? / Leave a mark on this with no start, just exist / My mind's in a prism shape / And in timеs like a prison state”. He then sings "nobody is listening" repeatedly and slowly fades until the end of the song. This dark intro sets the tone of the album and gives an almost grieving impression to the album.
Track 2 is titled, “Better” and begins with soft strumming guitar and gives an acoustic and intimate feeling. This song is much lighter than the first track. However, with lyrics like, “Me and you wasn't meant, we wasn't fitted / Like it's a glove, I hated to admit it”, Zayn speaks of an ending relationship that is sometimes better left broken.
Track 3, “Outside”, continues the theme of a failing relationship. He uses an acoustic guitar with a light fluttering in the background to lead the melody of the song. He includes the use of varying percussion to create a scattered feeling within the song but ends with a hopeful note of “I’ll let you decide / leave my life outside / or let me in”.
Track 4, “Vibez”, is very similar to his tracks from his previous album, “Icarus Falls”. This song is very seductive and talks about intimate moments with a partner. He tells his partner, “you already know I got it for ya (Ooh, ooh) / You know the vibes”, insinuating that he is planning to hook up. This song is much more dynamic than the previous songs on his album. He has a much heavier bass led melody and R&B style vocals.
Track 5, “When Love’s Around” ft. Syd, continues the sultry tone that his album has transitioned to. Syd’s dueted vocals with Zayn, “Cause when love’s around” describe how people often do crazy things when they are in love. This soft and almost electric song provides a soft and romantic vibe. The entire song sounds like it is being played behind a filter with the perfect clarity of the vocals drawing all of your attention to the lyrics.
Track 6, “Connexion”, goes back to the soft acoustic feelings of the first few tracks on the album. His guitar led melody uses finger snaps to set the tempo. This song discussing Zayn not wanting to “miss out on another love / So [he’s] gonna dive right in” has an angelic sound with filtered, vocals describing a “physical connection” in the background.
Track 7, “Sweat”, has a seductive Phil Collins style. It is incredibly reminiscent of The Weeknd’s song “Prisoner” in the way that the drums create an intense melody that is slow and dramatic. In this song, Zayn sings about sweet nothings and the traits that make his partner irresistible. This song was definitely the most… risque.
Track 8, “Unf**kwitable”, sings about how Zayn is “so tired of fake friends and fake love”. In his muffled melody of drums and radio like guitar, he conveys a coldness that makes him impossible to mess with. This song is oddly poetic and simple but it really works.
Track 9, “Windowsill” ft. Devlin, is much more energetic and talks about romantic moments on a window sill. "Windowsill has a similar sounding chorus as Post Malone’s song, “Goodbye. His use of a consistent melody that has contrasting vocals creates a really intriguing sound.
Track 10, “Tightrope”, is probably the most beautiful song on the album. It is truly heavenly. The softness in his voice with the gorgeous background of a harmonized guitar makes this song remarkable. The song has the simple chorus of “Something tells me it was you” and the verses talk about the things that led his intuition to believe that his partner was the one.
The last track, “River Road” has a grungier sound with a heavier guitar accompaniment. The song is quite simple and talks about going with the flow and not knowing what is going to happen. He asks, “What will I leave behind mе? / Where will I choose to go? / To tеll the truth, I'm tired of falling / When I'm floating, I'm closer to you”, circling back to finding his purpose and the feeling of just floating through life. He ends his album on a rather somber note making listeners consider these questions themselves.
This album was quite different for Zayn. It was hauntingly beautiful. The intense and almost dissociated tones were really intriguing. It was like listening to music in a dream. His song “Tightrope” was by far my favorite. It was phenomenal. I think that everybody should listen to this song if nothing else. There was such a simple beauty to it that was quite astonishing. I think that fans of Post Malone and The Weeknd as well as Zayn, of course, would really enjoy this album. I highly recommend it.