Zayn strives for a late-night bedroom R&B experience on his latest album Nobody is Listening. Each song is a slow jam meant to inspire lovemaking, but the result is monotone and repetitive. While Zayn can hit and hold long high notes, he spends a significant amount of the album mumbling about the pace of his life.
As a successful singer, and one who reached fame at a young age, Zayn’s day is a bit out of sync with the everyday listener. His job is to create art, and the rest of his day is spent smoking and thinking about women. The lyrics throughout Nobody is Listening are more in line with fooling around than representing a deepfelt connection. Oftentimes when a singer says “you,” it is to add a sense of universality so that listeners can imagine the song is about them, but within this album, it feels like Zayn is so inside his head that he has forgotten his partner’s name.
Part of the problem is that each song sounds so similar to the rest of the album that it’s hard to differentiate. The backing instrumentals continue to repeat a near identical holding pattern so that Zayn can carry the sole musical heights of the album. It never carries over though. It is as if Zayn is the captain of the ship, but his crew have taken down the sails and now they can’t ride the wind to reach Love Island. An optimistic fan may imagine that the early songs will give way to some mattress movers, but Zayn continues with the same slow and steady beat. It is a consistent album, but the consistently doesn’t reach a climax.
If bedroom ballads can be compared to a sizzling steak, Nobody is Listening feels like it was reheated in the microwave. It lacks the fire of passion that can be found in Sam Smith’s songs about desire, or John Legend’s devotion to the love of his life, or the sense of affection fellow One Direction alum Harry Styles brings to his solo career. Zayn cruises down the middle of the road for a young man fooling around and mistaking lust for love. Sadly, the pacing of Nobody is Listening maintains a boner shrinking monotonous trudge through recycled phrases about sex and intimacy.