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  • ruby crowhurst


Nobody is Listening is ZAYN's 3rd studio album as a solo artist, and once again ZAYN's signature silky smooth contemporary R&B sound is present, but this release shows a new level of growth from his previous and shows he's honing in on who he wants to be as a solo artist. Nobody Is Listening's short and sweet running time is 100 miles from the 27 song epic that was his 2018 release, Icarus Falls.

The album begins strong with an unexpected spoken word introduction 'Calamity', which could be arguably one of the best tracks on the album. The poem is honest, and this combined with his natural Bradford accent driving through, you feel a real sense of genuineness in this initial track. If it's Zayn's R&B that you're looking for then this track may come as a slightly unwelcome surprise, but you can tell Calamity has an important message that ZAYN wants to get across, which also is portrayed by his album cover and title: everybody is watching but nobody is listening.

Although the album starts off with a personal touch, we still only see glimpses of what we assume to be 'the real ZAYN' through the rest of the songs, but that's not necessarily a criticism. ZAYN is welcome to share as much of himself as he likes but as a 'most personal album yet' it still feels a little distant.

Each song on Nobody is Listening fades effortlessly into the next, which shows that this album was created as an album, rather than a group of singles. The low-key R&B sound moves throughout the album, which varies between emotional ballads and sex-driven confessions.

As per usual, the stand out part of the album is ZAYN's vocals. Once again, he solidifies himself as one of the leading male vocalists in the industry right now, as every song sounds effortless and features vocal ranges that many artists could only dream of. These impressive vocals are specifically highlighted in falsetto-filled 'Connexion'.

One of two features on the album is 'When Love's Around', a clever pairing with Syd. Both artists have similar energy and tone to their vocals that make them blend effortlessly throughout the track. These well-blended vocals are almost metaphorical for the meaning of the song itself, a wholehearted love song about being dedicated to one person.

'Tightrope', one of the standouts on the album, features a sample of ‘Chaudhvin Ka Chand’ by Indian singer Mohammed Rafi, which was very quickly picked up by fans. This inclusion of Urdu lyrics once again adds a glimpse of ZAYN's own personality, which mixes in with the story the lyrics tell of being unexplainably connected to someone, showcased in the repeated 'Something told me it was you'.

The album is short but significant, with the story of losing love then finding love again, successfully being told. It seems ZAYN has learned from his previous massive release that minimalism is often key, and he's better off for it.

Nobody is Listening is not experimental, it's not groundbreaking, but it does show ZAYN has finally found clarity as to the type of artist he wants to be, and that's just as important as pushing boundaries.

Parents always tell you that's it's better to be yourself than anyone else, and this is perfectly encapsulated within Nobody is Listening. When ZAYN is at his most honest and personal, is when he's at his best. However, you can still tell there's a discomfort in being this real within his music, so who knows whether he will keep this sincerity up in future releases. Here's hoping he does.


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