Released Jan. 15, Zayn Malik’s third studio album, “Nobody is Listening,” delivers 11 songs that feature strong vocals and a linear story. With standout tracks “Calamity,” “Outside” and “River Road,” as well as singles, “Better” and “Vibez,” Zayn introduces personal and reflective thoughts on a turbulent relationship. Throughout the R&B album, it is obvious that he has finally found his footing within songwriting in a way that is seemingly a continuation of the energy created in his debut album, “Mind of Mine.”
“Calamity” kicks off the album with a dramatic spoken-word intro. The song ponders nostalgia, death, fantasies and analogies. Within the song, Zayn considers his past and his feelings of restlessness and loneliness in lyrics like “there’s no right that I feel of late / there’s no light if my views at stake/ and which life should I choose to take?” “Calamity” offers a powerful glimpse into Zayn’s mind, before echoing the album title at the end of the song.
In “Better,” the second track on the album, as well as the lead single, Zayn sings about heartbreak. He also gives another look at the feeling of not belonging, which was something hinted at in “Calamity.” With lyrics like “still in my mind sometimes, I must admit it / like it’s a crime, I got acquitted / me and you wasn’t meant, we wasn’t fitted,” Zayn examines the risks and hopes that come from love and continues to narrate the linear story he’s created.
Track three, “Outside,” continues to examine the turbulent relationship he had sung about in the previous two songs. Just before the chorus, he sings “two wrongs make no right / when it’s left, at least we tried / I’ll be back tonight / I’ll let you decide,” showing that despite the troubles faced within the relationship, Zayn is willing to try again. In this song, he trades his restlessness for bargaining, signaling a transition into the second half of the album.
“Vibez,” the second single and track four, is reminiscent of Zayn’s debut album, “Mind of Mine.” With a return to a more sexual theme, Zayn hints at a reunion that turns the second half of the album around from heartbreak to a more romantic undertone. Lyrics like “don’t keep me waitin’ / I beeen waitin’ all night to get closer” and “if we’re movin’ too fast, we can slow up” signify a reconciliation with a deeper caring.
The final track, “River Road,” closes out the album with Zayn feeling some sort of closure. Through the lyrics, it’s evident that he’s come to the conclusion that despite being disappointed at times and despite any disagreements, he can rely both on himself and on his partner to lean on. Lyrics like “we don’t define each other / stand on your own, be a pillar,” “answers that will lie inside myself” and “to tell the truth, I’m tired of falling / when I’m floating, I’m closer to you” all seem to signify Zayn’s commitment to settling down and trusting not only his partner, but also himself.
Without a doubt, “Nobody is Listening” possesses a story arc that expresses a sense of vulnerability. Its lyricism and soulful voice, paired with Zayn’s willingness to be direct and honest, leaves listeners wanting more. It’s evident that Zayn has found his rhythm, and VALLEY can’t wait to hear what comes next.
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