Intentionally or no longer, many recording artists’ careers can be divided into chapters, usually defined by albums with a distinctive sound and, regularly, search for: the Beatles’ psychedelic era, Prince’s early ‘80s new wave phase, David Bowie’s “Berlin trilogy,” Kanye West’s “808s and Heartbreak,” and so on.
More than most, the phases of R&B-pop auteur The Weeknd are tightly defined. The three pioneering 2011 mixtapes that launched no longer only his career nevertheless a entire new strain of R&B bled into his extra-elaborate nevertheless staunch as dark major-label debut, “Kiss Land.” During that time he was reclusive, declining interviews, rarely being photographed and putting forth a profile as dark as the manufacturing on these albums. But 2015’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” was an abrupt and ambitious pivot into expansive leagues that saw him teaming up with Max Martin, who, with hits ranging from the Backstreet Boys to Taylor Swift, is the most profitable producer-songwriter of the past 25 years. That album spawned several massive singles (including “I Can’t Feel My Face” and “In the Evening”), featured collaborations with Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey, and turned The Weeknd — aka Abel Tesfaye — into a superstar. He got even hotter with the equally massive “Starboy,” released staunch a year later and highlighted by collaborations with Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar and Future, which was followed with a “hiatus” that, for this hyper-prolific artist, entailed two tours and a comparatively low-key EP, 2018’s “My Dear Melancholy.”
A month after he turned 30, The Weeknd is launching the following era together with his most fully realized album yet, “After Hours.” Sonically, the hallmarks are ultra-cinematic keyboards, pulsating sub-bass, hard beats (which are seldom danceable), ‘80s synthesizer prospers and caverns of echo, all of which contrast together with his high, angelic suppose. The sound is distinctively Weeknd, nevertheless an unusual progression — it’s somehow sharp and blurry at the same time. Longtime collaborators appreciate Martin, Metro Boomin, DaHeala and Illangelo are explain on most of the songs, nevertheless as usual he’s introduced in an irregular array of new blood: electronic musician Oneohtrix Point By no means (whose avant textures brings the aforementioned blurry sharpness to several songs), Oscar Holter (DNCE, Tove Lo, Taylor Swift) and one-song power-bys from Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker, Camila Cabello producer Frank Dukes and Lizzo’s wizard Ricky Reed. It’s a realalbumtoo, with a smoothly flowing arc and a loose storyline that presumably follows a calm-unfolding storyline around the crimson-jacketed, debauched, busted-nosed character Weeknd portrays in latest videos, who is having such a bad night in Las Vegas.
All of sudden, “After Hours” starts off with gentler, quieter songs. The mood is made up our minds with the haunting “Alone Again” and “Too Late” — loaded with ominous keyboards and sinister sub-bass — earlier than shifting into the aching “Hardest to Appreciate,” a Martin collaboration with a spiraling refrain that may perhaps have been plucked from a late ‘60s pop single; the fact that it’s combined with ricocheting, drum n’ bass percussion that somehow sounds completely natural only emphasizes the song’s sophistication.
In an eerie footnote, the term “Alone together” appears in two songs early in the album — a term that, considering the area in which “After Hours” is landing, is sadly fitting for so many self-isolators trying to stay connected.
It’s followed by another killer, “Scared to Live,” a gradual-burning ballad (carried out on “Saturday Evening Live” earlier this month) with an interpolation of Elton John’s “Your Song,” and then the clearly autobiographical “Snowchild.” The song’s lyrics are a remarkably particular sequence of anecdotes from the singer’s lifestyles: recollections of his Toronto childhood and rough-and-tumble teen years, contemporary references to paparazzi and a “$20 mil mansion [he] by no means lived in,” and a rapid-hearth rapper-stage verse (“Now I’m in Tribeca appreciate I’m Jay-Z/ Rockin’ Sorayama appreciate he pay me/ I staunch signed a new deal with Mercedes/ Obtained me movin’ soiled appreciate [Patrick] Swayze/ All my diamonds hittin’ appreciate they Swae Lee”).
Nearly 25 minutes into the album, right here advance the bangers: The hedonistic advance singles, “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless,” which are already among the largest hits of his career, and then two extra probable hits: “In Your Eyes” and “Save Your Tears,” both of which may perhaps have been MTV staples in the early ’80s and are begging for duration-appropriate videos. The old-fashioned has a sax solo straight out of George Michael’s “Careless Scream,” the latter some thwacking electronic percussion and the vocoder from Electrical Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky.”
But the enjoyable ends as the ominous atmosphere returns and the album strikes its defining demonstrate with the pulsating title track and then, judging by the title and abrupt discontinue of “Unless I Bleed Out,” a presumably unhappy ending.
The Weeknd’s tune has always been about contrasts, and right here the beauty and the madness are extra smoothly integrated than ever. “After Hours” is certainly probably the most most profitable musicians of the past decade testing the balance between innovation and commerciality as noteworthy as anyone today.
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The Weeknd’s ‘After Hours’: Album Review
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Intentionally or no longer, many recording artists’ careers can be divided into chapters, usually defined by albums with a distinctive sound and, regularly, search for: the Beatles’ psychedelic era, Prince’s early ‘80s new wave phase, David Bowie’s “Berlin trilogy,” Kanye West’s “808s and Heartbreak,” and so on. More than most, the phases of R&B-pop auteur The Weeknd […]