• Darby VanDeVeen

ZAYN gets comfortable on 'Nobody is Listening'

“Malik produces an enjoyable listen that harnesses a vibe to wrap around the listener like a warm blanket”

Former One Direction member, Zayn Malik has found success on his own as a solo artist after being the first to leave the group in 2015. Since then, he has released three studio albums along with a handful of collaborations with artists like Taylor Swift, Sia, and PARTYNEXTDOOR. Nobody Is Listening sees Malik growing into himself as a solo artist and exploring a new sound to find his niche.

Without the usual promotion and rollout, Malik’s album was still anticipated by fans, but nowhere near as successful as other surprise drops like those of Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. Malik also doesn’t take a lot of risk despite the sonic switch to a more chilled out record. Vocally is where Malik shines the brightest going from the spoken word of “Calamity” to sweet falsettos on “Outside.” His range is the most appealing and dynamic part of the record and holds it up when it starts to get boring.

Promoted as an introspective and revealing album, Nobody is Listening does not go much deeper than any other record. Malik has a majority of topics to explore with the most prominent being new fatherhood during the quarantine. The deepest he gets is when he sings about longtime girlfriend Gigi Hadid on “Better” and “Tightrope.” He also explores his position in the industry on “Unfuckwitable” and even potentially alluding to the pressure labels put on him to maintain the image of a wholesome boyband as a part of One Direction.

Balancing sexual tracks like “Sweat” and “Windowsill” with more acoustic, introspective tracks like “Tightrope” and “River Road” cohesively on such a short album is hard to do, but Malik manages this with synth-heavy production and R&B experimentation. For 36 minutes, you can fall into a comfortable haze and disassociate from the world around you. But while you can fall into the album, Malik feels too comfortable with this style and doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

As an album, Malik produces an enjoyable listen that harnesses a vibe to wrap around the listener like a warm blanket on a rainy day. He takes a risk by switching up his sound and while it fits his voice well, it is not sonically dynamic enough to keep the listener engaged for the entire release. Personally, I might listen to it a few more times before it falls out of my rotation. I hope that Malik decides to take some more risks on his next releases to set himself apart from the crowd.


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