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  • CJ Taylor

Album Review: "Room Under The Stairs" - Zayn

Zayn's latest album "Room Under the Stairs" explores the complexities of modern relationships and personal growth. As the artist continues to evolve, this album showcases his remarkable versatility, seamlessly blending R&B, pop, and introspective indie influences to craft a deeply personal and emotionally resonant listening experience.

Zayn returns to the music scene with undiminished passion and creativity. This album not only showcases his evolution as an artist but also explores deeper, more introspective themes. Each track on the album offers a unique sound, coupled with profound lyrics that resonate with listeners, inviting them into the intimate spaces of his mind. From the raw emotions of "Dreamin" to the complex reflections in "The Time," Zayn creates a musical mosaic that beautifully articulates human feelings and experiences. Join us as we dive deep into each song, unraveling the layers of Zayn Malik’s most ambitious project to date.

  1. Dreamin (3:32)

  2. What I am (3:31)

  3. Grateful (3:22)

  4. Alienated (4:08)

  5. My Woman (3:43)

  6. How it Feels (2:59)

  7. Stardust (3:52)

  8. Gates of Hell (2:40)

  9. Birds On A Cloud (3:13)

  10. Concrete Kisses (3:45)

  11. False Stars (3:29)

  12. The Time (3:14)

  13. Something In The Water (2:32)

  14. Shoot At Will (2:37)

  15. Fushia Sea (2:28)

Zayn Malik's journey from a Bradford boy to a global pop sensation is nothing short of cinematic. Rising to fame with the powerhouse boy band One Direction, Zayn carved out a niche for himself with his soulful voice and enigmatic presence. In 2015, he took a bold step to leave the band, aiming to explore his musical individuality. This gamble paid off with his debut solo album, 'Mind of Mine,' topping charts globally and its lead single, "Pillowtalk," debuting at number one in several countries.

His music, often infused with R&B and pop influences, showcases a maturity and depth that reflects his personal experiences and artistic growth. Over the years, Zayn has remained a singer and transformed into a style icon and a vocal advocate for mental health, continuously influencing millions with his openness and artistic expression.

The album opens with the introspective track "Dreamin'," which sets the tone for the journey ahead. Zayn's soulful vocals effortlessly navigate the track's ethereal soundscape, as he grapples with the desire to break free from the confines of his mind and embrace the unknown. The poignant lyrics, "I've been dreamin', feelin' this way / I've been needin' something else / I know what it is when I see it / Can't hold on anymore to this feelin'," capture the artist's yearning for a deeper connection and a sense of purpose.

Musically, the song envelops you in lush and expansive soundscapes that perfectly capture the essence of dreaming. The slow, echoing beats and the soft, almost ethereal guitar in the background create a sense of floating in an endless sky. The dreamy quality of the music complements the longing expressed in the lyrics, making "Dreamin" not just a song, but an experience of Zayn's inner world—vulnerable, raw, and distinctly beautiful.

Moving on, "What I Am" delves into the artist's introspective process, as he reflects on the duality of his own identity and the challenges of navigating the complexities of human relationships. The track's infectious hook and the raw honesty in Zayn's delivery create a powerful and relatable listening experience, resonating with anyone who has grappled with the inherent contradictions of the self.

This song cleverly uses the notion of misunderstood declarations and unmet expectations to explore the struggles of being truly understood by others, even loved ones. Through poignant verses and a chorus that begs for acceptance, Zayn captures the essence of imploring others to accept his truths, no matter how jarring or uneasy they might be.

The album's third track, "Grateful," showcases Zayn's ability to craft uplifting and emotionally resonant pop compositions. The track's upbeat tempo and infectious melody are complemented by the artist's sincere lyrics, which express a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for the people and experiences that have shaped his life. The track's chorus, "These days I live to my depiction / Nowadays I'm findin' no affliction / These days I'm needin' no restriction / Feel like I'm finding new addiction," captures the artist's newfound sense of inner peace and contentment. This track is not merely a love song but an ode to life’s unexpected gifts and the serene acceptance of life's full spectrum. Zayn’s use of gentle melodies to complement these heartfelt lyrics adds a layer of warmth and depth, making "Grateful" a soothing anthem of thanks amidst the storms.

"Alienated," one of the album's standout tracks, delves into the theme of feeling disconnected and isolated, both from others and from oneself. Zayn's introspective lyrics and the track's atmospheric production create a sense of vulnerability and emotional depth that is both haunting and captivating. The chorus, "And I've been feeling alienated / On my spaceship alone / Say goodbye to the past / Leave it all with a laugh / 'Cause you always was right all along," resonates with the listener, evoking a sense of longing and the desire to break free from the constraints of the past.

The album's midpoint is marked by the sensual and alluring "My Woman," which showcases Zayn's ability to craft intricate and introspective love songs. The track's pulsing beat and the artist's emotive vocals create a sense of intimacy and passion, as he explores the complexities of romantic relationships and the search for emotional fulfillment.

Zayn does an exceptional job at being poetic when he describes how love can be so powerful yet painful at the same time. With a chorus that goes “Love me partly, leave me tonight”, we are told that there might be some ambiguity over what kind of connection two people share. In his verses, he engages himself in a conversation vis-à-vis both the pleasures and pitfalls of his romantic life thereby reflecting on human nature which often finds it hard to accept anything short perfection where matters heart are concerned. Through presenting chaos as beautiful messiness rather than an ugly accident waiting to happen, listeners relate with the track which suggests that love is flawed but still attractive nonetheless.

The album's sixth track “How It Feels” delves deep into self-reflection within personal growth’s context. In these lines, someone is pictured standing beside a river stuck symbolically at a crossroads as life passes them by. The person cannot shiver forward henceforth. Using such common objects like rivers which flow and send shivers down our spines makes us realize that we all go through moments when we feel like there’s no progress being made emotionally(pre-chorus). The chorus then shows how hard it can be to move on (emotionally) by indicating that he has had to pretend happiness while dealing with heartbreak.

Being slow-paced with an echoic beat coupled with hauntingly smooth vocals by Zayn himself, this record talks volumes concerning the conflict between fulfilling other people’s expectations at the expense of one’s innermost wants. More than just being another track off his most recent album release; these are words that will guide us through those parts we find difficult to navigate emotionally.

The album's sonic diversity continues with "Stardust," a dreamy, atmospheric track that celebrates the magic of human connection and the profound impact of shared experiences. Zayn's vocals shine, weaving a tapestry of emotion and wonder that leaves a lasting impression.This song tackles the­ enchanting, supernatural, and extraordinary parts of love­ that enlighten the typical. Stardust is the­ symbol that love employs to sprinkle charm and de­light in people's lives through small actions and e­ven mundane eve­nts.

It turns everything to gold, making it glitter and full of astonishme­nt. The instances mentione­d in the music encapsulate the­ beauty of finding someone who not only alte­rs your world view but also makes you fee­l integrated into something much large­r than your individual existence. "Stardust" highlights the­ lovely and unexpecte­d moments brought by love, along with the challe­nging sensation of holding the sense­ of belonging in one's heart.

In album's eigth track "Gates of Hell", Zayn looks at personal confrontations and the psychological journey through inner problems. Remarkable is a realistic image of fighting with our inner dark sides, which might become a symbolic act of passing through the 'gates of hell'. The song could show us with a striking metaphor what Zayn thinks of himself. He describes how tormented he is to the extent that he is both the tormentor and a persecuted person, which could be seen in the following parts "So fucked, I can't feel my face" and "I, I don't like you very much but I keep putting up with your shit."

In the lines, there is an expression of dullness and self-hate, but there is also an iteration of continuous internal conflicts where the self keeps fighting against his/her vices or inflicted pain. The unfiltered, raw language speaks for the depth of feelings, and the song touches everyone who, besides its struggles, has learned to live with itself. The sensitive soul of the individual gets mirrored similarly as the narrative enables the individual his/her victory over the self but steers him/her right back into the behavior because of the relative reliability.

"Birds On A Cloud" is a track that speaks to happiness and the song is all about the ephemeral nature of this feeling. Metaphorically, it is mentioned in the first sentence that this feeling is as temporal and transient as birds flying on a cloud. The lyrics "So when I wake up today; Hoping I don't feel the same as I did last night" reveal a narrative of fluctuating moods and the ongoing pursuit of joy, which seems to escape quickly just the way it comes.

This song describes a clear enough picture of depression—the figures "Please give me one more day of happiness, I need it. I need it." come to mind. In this area, Zayn expresses his metonymy for pleasure, reiterating that his very life is dependent on it and at the same time admitting that this is not something enduring.

Moving on to the album's tenth track "Concrete Kisses", this song delivers a poignant reflection on the gritty, painful moments that shape our lives. The song initiates with a mundane yet evocative image—waking up with concrete kisses on the face. These kisses are not tender or loving; instead, they symbolize the harsh realities of life, the unwanted yet unavoidable confrontations with the concrete ground. Through the verses, Zayn portrays a scenario filled with struggle and vulnerability.

The concrete kisses metaphorically represent life's setbacks, acting as scars of past battles and fall that although painful, form part of our identity. The pre-chorus and chorus weave a narrative of resilience against continual hardships. Zayn sings about the scars left on his skin, telling a story of personal battles and emotional upheavals. The repetition of "This might not sound right, but it's alright, it's real" serves as an affirmation of accepting life's brutal truths while embracing the road to recovery or progress, no matter how imperfect or painful it might be.

The album's eleventh track "False Starts" accurately describes the necessity of keeping on even in the case of constant failures or hardships. Through a series of emotional and metaphorical landscapes, Zayn Malik takes the reader on a journey as he talks about how one keeps walking despite the constant turmoil of life. "Fast car, fast heart, trouble in my brain" really brings the idea of someone who pushes life to the limits of human endurance with both scarifying speed and tragic failure alike.

The chorus in the song depicts the heavy universality of the theme and says that "no one should know and that is how the reality goes. But deep inside I know I need to go." These lines show the very personal and at times fairly isolated path of overcoming the past and heading for the invisible land. Even if the entire world did not understand the mental turmoil one went through, the yearning to move on was strictly private and hidden. Lyrics such as "Yeah, I am shaking, open chest" evoke the idea of painful vulnerability that an individual must feel to be able to emerge afresh after each crash.

The track "The Time" is primarily focused on the nature of the temporary and the poignant awareness that comes with their transient nature. This song is consumed by the feeling of severe understanding of how carelessly time can pass through our hands, thus, giving rise to the stress of capturing each fleeting moment caused by it. The words "Yesterday just came and went / And if today I wake up late, I won't forgive myself," indicate the loss of time and the need to make the present so much better.

The bridge "Ain't it special? Ain't it precious? / The time that we have" adds additional emphasis to the rare and wild animal that is a shared smile. These lines effectively make a point of how precious and limited the time spent with our dear ones should be and that it is better not to see through our fingers to that time. Zayn’s enchanting voice along with the subtle melody elevates the introspection done through the lyrics, making the message so clear and loud that it becomes that kind of a song that still is easily recognizable by anyone fighting the invasion of time.

"Something In The Water" illustrates the striking pull of attraction as a supernatural force is shown to be the lead couple of a story while making explicit the effect of this inexplicable attraction on a person. The words "I feel somethin' in the water | I can feel you in the atmosphere" denote a mysterious and magical, involuntary link that not by chance joins two souls. Thus, the idea of an incalculably strong and completely irresistible pull towards another person drives the song and adds to its ethereal mood. The artist then uses water as a metaphor to describe the strength and pervasiveness of this control that, he perceives, is metamorphosing his essence from the core – "Swear you flowin' through my blood."

Also, to cherish this power the climax also talks about the apprehensions and the overwhelming satisfaction, which come with unleashing the full force of their relationship. The lyrics "On the edge until you pull me in" represent the actual time of yielding in the face of the rapid spell, thus pinpointing the extremity of such an event and an imprint of destiny. With the lush musicality and poignant profound lyrics, this track tells a story of a person being irresistibly drawn to one and the other, making it a gripping narrative on the power of attraction.

"Shoot At Will" captures a poignant narrative, striking a chord with its exploratory themes of internal conflict and the repeating cycles of personal history. Zayn delves into introspective territories, weaving lyrics that let the listener identify with his identity struggle between moving forward and being pulled back by the past. The image of standing "bare feet in a field" is a metaphor. This and the rawness of facing one's truths and consequences are portrayed by standing "bare feet in a field."

The chorus, "Just took a drag, oh, ain't it a drag? / When you feel like history's pulling you back," succinctly puts into words the frustration of feeling stagnant and haunted by history. The rinse for this song is the emotional authenticity that is derived and vibes out with sadness and submission as a boy band personality bursts out in this song to make fun with a listener.

The album closes out with the track "Fuchsia Sea". In this song, Zayn embodies the theme of an emotional crisis and deals with the issues related to personal identity during the turmoil of life. The lines, "I'm tired of the grey / I'm sick of the pain," articulate how much energy has been exhausted from existential exhaustion and the yearning to break away from the monotony of monotonous feelings of sadness.

This is a song that asks us to embrace our emotions. In the "fuchsia sea," we can learn to enjoy the pain and find hope out of it. In the lyrics of "Ferocious devotion / I can't keep it up, I'm falling into motion" Zayn presents the unbalanced relationship between an enthusiastic approach and the weariness that comes after the touchpoint is passed due to emotional expenditure inevitably. He brings the image of a fight with feelings and the difficulty in giving in emotions to a great extent. Therefore, "Fuchsia Sea" comes as an attractive exploration of the heart's downs and the colorful seas where it flourishes too.

Overall, I think "Room under the Stairs" is a triumph of Zayn's artistic vision, showcasing his growth as a songwriter and his unwavering commitment to crafting music that is both deeply personal and universally relatable. Fans of Zayn's previous work will undoubtedly find much to cherish in this album, while newcomers to his music will be captivated by the depth and emotional resonance of his storytelling.

This album not only showcases his versatility as an artist, but it also resonates with anyone who has found themselves introspecting about love, loss, and self-discovery. Zayn has poured his heart and soul into this project, making "Room Under the Stairs" a standout addition to his discography and a deeply personal narrative that many will find relatable and moving.

If you're eager to experience Zayn's latest musical masterpiece, be sure to check out the album on Spotify using the link below or stream it in the Soundcloud playlist above, you can also watch the official lyric videos to each track, the "Stardust" official music video, and watch his live performance video for "Alienated" in the videos above. Be sure to follow him on all of his social media platforms to stay up-to-date on his latest releases, upcoming tour dates, and to continue following his extraordinary musical journey.

Until Next Time Guys!

Written By CJ Taylor


*copyright not intended. Fair use act, section 107.


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