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The Eastern Echo Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo


Review: ‘ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS’ takes listeners on a journey through a new room in ZAYN’s mind

ZAYN’s fourth studio album, “Room Under the Stairs,” takes steps away from the sounds of his previous solo releases. From his primarily R&B debut solo album “Mind of Mine” to this acoustic-heavy album, Zayn Malik’s raw vocals have remained consistent. 

“Room Under the Stairs” was released on May 17, accompanied by a live one-night performance in London. This shocked fans as it was Malik’s first live solo performance and first live performance after leaving One Direction.

Malik announced “Room Under the Stairs” on social media in March 2024 with a heartfelt video directed to his listeners. He later released the album’s lead singles “What I Am” on March 15 and “Alienated” on April 12. On May 20, Malik released the extended version of “Room Under the Stairs,” with five “Z Side” tracks, including two demos.


After the lead single, “What I Am,” was dropped, fans were eager to hear the new direction that Malik was taking with his music. Malik experiments with his vocals and instrumentals on this track in a way fans had yet to hear. Known for his wide vocal range, Malik gave listeners an album with a mix of both high and low tones. Malik’s raw and raspy vocals can be heard throughout “Room Under the Stairs,” giving the album a country feel.

For “Room Under the Stairs,” Malik collaborated with Nashville producer Dave Cobb. Cobb’s work can be heard throughout the album. Cobb’s production on “Room Under the Stairs” takes the album to the next level. For example, track one, “Dreamin,” and “Z Side” track, “In the Bag,” are notable as they feature country-folk qualities like acoustics and keys.


“Room Under the Stairs” has few lows as Malik continues to explore music authentically on his terms. However, there is potential for improvement as the lyricism is lacking in comparison to his previous releases. The album starts off strong lyrically with singles “What I Am” and “Alienated” close to the beginning. Track seven, “Stardust,” was seemingly set up to be another favorite, however, it was as repetitive as it was dreamy. “Stardust” was also accompanied by a music video.


Overall, “Room Under the Stairs” is yet another raw and emotional record by ZAYN, but with a twist.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Madison Cantrell is the Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Eastern Echo and the Editor-in-Chief of Cellar Roots, EMU’s Fine Art Magazine. Since Fall 2023, they have written news, features, and reviews and taken photos for The Echo.