January album reviews

Zayn’s “Nobody is Listening”

By: Waleeja Chaudhry and Jackie Garay

Rating: 9/10

Former-One Direction member Zayn Malik released his third studio album “Nobody is Listening” on January 15, featuring neo-soul singer Syd and british rapper Devlin. Blending electropop and alternative R&B, this intimate album dives deep into themes of identity and love. 

Malik released his single “Better” in September and teased this album as “his most personal project to date.” Undoubtedly, the album takes a deeper dive into Malik’s relationship with his girlfriend, Gigi Hadid, with whom he has a daughter. In the first track, “Calamity,” Malik discusses how he feels he has no control over life, relationships, and career, leaving him in a state of abyss. The track “Connexion” interprets how Malik feels about love as a hard rush. Comparing it to a drug, he sings, “Don’t wanna stop and words ain’t enough, feels just like a drug.”

Meanwhile, “Sweat” and “Windowsill” give off a similar vibe to the chart topping song “Pillow Talk” from his first debut album “Mind of Mine,” musing about pleasure. With lyrics like “dive into that ocean of your love,” Malik exaggerates his powerful affection towards Hadid and its impact. 

One of my favorite songs from the album, “Tightrope,” connects to Malik’s Pakistani heritage. Here, Malik displays his emotional need to rely on his partner to keep on progressing together without overthinking if along the way they might break. Post-chorus, Malik sings a part of the song “Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho” by the influential Indian singer Mohammed Rafi, whom I grew up listening to. The Hindi lyrics emphasize his love towards his partner and admires her beauty. As a devoted fan of old Pakistani/Indian music, this song was the pivotal moment where I felt a connection to the album at a very personal level. It reminded me of my cultural roots and my family back home, giving me a sense of representation and security. 

The album overall has everything you would expect from the former band member: an emotional rollercoaster. Malik gives us music to which you could dance, or have a very dramatic emotional breakdown, just like I did.


Evelyn Glennie: Concertos for Mallet Instruments 

By: Chau Nguyen

Ratings: 9/10

Dame Evelyn Glennie delivers what I considered to be the best performance of her career. This 180-minute sparkling percussion recording is so captivating, you will feel as though no time has passed.

Triple Grammy Award-winning percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie performed at the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, conducted by Jean Thorel and played works by Alexis Alrich, Sir Karl Jenkins, and Ned Rorem. Each of these three contemporary composers brought about a unique texture commissioned for Glennie. The Marimba Concerto written by Alexis Alrich emboldens a rich amalgam of bold rhythms and exuberance, exploring Mexican and Asian-inspired music. Sir Karl Jenkins traces the 15th-century tune La Folia, furnishing it with refinement and strongly characterised intensity. Ned Rorem’s Mallet Concerto highlights the contrasting resonances of four different pitched mallets in music of drama and dynamics.

Given such diverse works to execute, the deaf Scottish musician dashes from one instrument to another with ease and confidence. Spicing up the glockenspiel, Glennie let Norem’s haunting wisps of melody shine. Though not as outstanding, the Mexican folk tune is still delivered with care, as the marimba’s lyrical phrases and legato lines resonate through the chamber. La Folia’s unwavering Baroque variations are thoughtfully embellished, its transcription from violin to mallet instruments sublime. One minus might be a lack of profile from the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong under Jean Thorel, which fades into the shadow of xylophone and vibraphone. However, it only underscores the talent and expertise of Glennie, whose powerful playing soars above physical impairment and even past her own successful discography.