R E V I E W – M U S I C A L B U M
Zayn Malik’s third studio album Nobody is Listening is out and contrasting opinions are hovering about it like desperate bees around a honey pie. The R&B centric album’s chief attraction may very well be Malik’s bold efforts at experimentation that are finally taking a proper shape and have assumed a concise direction, but there are other aspects of the album that are worth noting down for would-be listeners.
The album starts with a somewhat grim introduction with “Calamity”, where Zayn puts emphasis on fantastical notions and thoughts driven by nostalgia. It seems quite unorthodox for an album which focuses on the subtleties of sex and romance in a relationship and the joys and frustrations that accompany it, but “Calamity” surprisingly seems to complement the rest of the songs in the roster as you keep listening. “Better” and “Outside” build on the foundations laid down by “Calamity”, as they focus on the heartbreak and painful memories experienced by the lover in pursuit, further intensifying the feelings fueled by fantasies borne of nostalgia.
These three songs by themselves, while nothing overtly phenomenal, do manage to put you in a warm, fuzzy mood with the well-composed R&B track. Malik seems to finally get a good grasp around the new sound that he has been in pursuit of since “Mind of Mine” and “Icarus Falls”, the mellifluous chord progressions and beats coupled with simple and meaningful lyrics really get the job done.
The next eight songs on the list take a different turn — focusing more on constructing a tangible love story, although in terms of musical composition, they may sound quite close to the most nitpicky of listeners. “Windowsill” is very catchy and reminiscent of Zayn’s previous works like “Pillowtalk”, and follows much of the style for which he is known for — songs about sex. It’s catchy and may be one of the only two songs beside “Sweat” that heavily carry the signature style that he usually follows. “River Road” and “Tightrope” are quite well written and well composed and as far as love songs go, it manages to do a pretty swell job. These two songs seem to have been hand-tailored for Malik’s silky-smooth voice and the tender chords further add to the overall tone of the two pieces.
All in all, the album has shown Zayn Malik’s growth as an artist after leaving One Direction in the best possible manner. He has finally started to find the stylistic melodies that best suit his skillset and from what can be extricated from this album, he’s trying to make the most of it. The lyrics are decent and quite well-written and intertwine with the melodies seamlessly. While there is indeed little stylistic variation between the pieces, the album still manages to put on a relaxing and soothing session portraying modern love storytelling in the best way one can in contemporary pop music.
It will be interesting to see where Malik’s stylistic choices lead to in the future, judging from the experimental nature of most of the songs in Nobody is Listening, Malik’s growth as a solo artist is merely just beginning.