By only giving fans a weeks notice, Zayn has been able to capitalise on the hype around his third studio album ‘Nobody Is Listening’ by essentially giving it to fans without the long promotional ups and downs. It’s been three years in-between records, but as his lead singles ‘Vibez’ and ‘Better’ preluded, not much has changed during that time
‘Nobody Is Listening’ is a refined collection of down-tempo RNB tracks compared to his self-indulgent ‘Icarus Falls’ which was a ridiculous 29 songs long. With his sonic not drastically changing, and the diversity of range still lacking, this record is quite similar in emotional depth and soundscape experimentation. There’s no audible growth or lyrical breakthrough that is highlighted, and instead this could have easily been the third disc from ‘Icarus Falls’.
Opening with the spoken word/rap track ‘Calamity’, he intimately details losing control of his thoughts within his rapid paced mind which makes way for the personal reflection that unfolds throughout the record. With the monotonous lead single ‘Better’ steering the album into cruise control, the first half of the album keeps the same rhythmic attributes and falls into forgettable territory.
He finally gains control of the wheel during the sexually charged ‘Sweat’ to give you one of the albums genuine highlights. The moody RNB track is dark and has this raw energy pulsating through it thanks to a heavy drum interpolation that adds an extra edge to the seductive lyrical content. “Let me touch you where you like it. Let me do it for ya. Give you all of my attention. Dive into that ocean of your love, oh. Let me show you just how much I want ya” he passionately sings.
‘Unfuckwitable’, ‘Windowsill’, and ‘Tightrope’ follow in its footsteps and give standout moments of emotional intimacy which was very much needed in this mainly vanilla affair. One thing that is always consistent about a Zayn record is his vocals, and on ‘Nobody Is Listening’ he provides some stellar vocal moments. But there is also a very questionable moment on ‘Connexion’ where his falsetto turns into this scratchy yell and he loses his usual smoothness.
As a body of work ‘Nobody Is Listening’ is a much more cohesive record compared to ‘Icarus Falls’ and feels refined around the edges. However the heavy impact feeling of his debut album ‘Mind Of Mine’ is missing. It’s not a groundbreaking album, and it floats in a very safe and predictable space for the majority of the duration. But there are a few glimpses of experimentation and vulnerability that shine bright and will quickly become fan favourites.