Zayn’s upcoming third studio album might be titled Nobody Is Listening, but anyone who has logged onto Twitter recently would certainly be convinced otherwise. Even after his sonic switch-up to more moody and sensual R&B material, the former One Direction member still has legions of superfans who were ready to hit the play button the second the album drops.
Zayn recently said this album gave him the opportunity to have “total creative reign” over the musical direction of the project, as well as dubbing his lyrical ruminations on becoming a new father and the on-again-off-again relationship with supermodel Gigi Hadid his “most personal project to date.” But if you want a sneak preview of the songs, you can simply give Zayn a call. No, really – try dialling 323-991-Zayn and hitting the track number you want to hear a couple seconds from on your keypad. The luckiest fans have even received personalized voicemails and texts from Zayn himself.
While you wait for that fateful message, here are five of our takeaways from Nobody Is Listening:
#1: Ambiguous Title
As the album plays out, the title begins to take on quite a few meanings. On the surface, it’s mostly an inside joke for his fans about Zayn’s aversion to the public eye and reclusive nature decreasing opportunities for promotion of his work. However, a couple more lyrical references to the title show the phrase playing out as both a celebration of quality time with Hadid and a genuine cry for help as he grapples with his mental demons.
#2: Life on the Farm
Speaking of Hadid, it seems like Zayn finally has wedding bells on his mind after dating sporadically for the past five years. On both “When Love’s Around” and “Outside,” Zayn delivers the line “you could be my wife for real” in an awestruck tone. The latter track also seems to find Zayn embracing the new pastoral life the two have built together on Hadid’s rural Pennsylvania farm, with some lines about appreciating natural beauty. The happy couple have been residing on the farm since last April, social distancing from the rest of the world.
#3: Dropping Bars
Fans can certainly expect another round of lowkey alt-R&B cuts, but one musical direction they might not have seen coming serves as the album’s opening. The track “Calamity” kicks off with a two-minute verse delivered in Zayn’s heavy Yorkshire accent that is half-slam poetry and half-hip-hop. Getting mildly existential as his flow bounces loosely off the track’s sparse percussion, Zayn runs through a variety of personal problems including nervousness about becoming a dad and conflicts with his family.
#4: Lascivious Lyrics
With each release, it becomes both easier to forget completely about Zayn’s clean-cut boy band past and more understandable why he was the first of the famous five to gracefully bow out. Although all of the former One Direction boys have branched out to cover widely differing musical styles, Zayn is clearly the furthest away from making immediately accessible music for the masses. Not only is the mix on Nobody Is Listening is a little more lo-fi than usual, putting Zayn’s calming vocals in the forefront, but lyrically some tracks get so hot and heavy that we hear about things like the accidental destruction of his property.
#5: Surround Sound
You’re going to want to grab your best pair of headphones for your first listen to the album, because the project was specifically mixed with the kind of 360-degree sonic experience that bounces engagingly from one ear to the other in mind. It only serves to enhance Zayn playing into the ongoing revival of the spacey soundscapes and passionate vocals of late-2000s R&B that we’ve seen recently with artists like Ella Mai, Dvsn and Chloe x Halle. This project boasts a couple perfect features courtesy of The Internet’s frontwoman, Syd, and English grime rapper Devlin.
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