Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, The Weeknd has won three Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, nine Billboard Music Awards, nine Juno Awards, and has been nominated for an Academy Award. One of the most successful Canadian recording artists, The Weeknd was awarded the Allan Slaight Award by Canada’s Walk of Fame for “making a positive impact in the fields of music, film, literature, visual or performing arts, sports, innovation or philanthropy” Ten years in, is The Weeknd still pushing sonics in the popmasphere?
“After hours” can function in an album setting, with daring instrumentals not usually found on The Top 40. Credit deserves to be given for that accomplishment. Fearless sound pallets that keep me listening, even when the sometimes corny hooks and simp tones make me want to close my music app.
Soaked in drug abuse, Weeknd sets us up for a bold, sorrow spitting opener. “Alone Again”, asking his lover to remind him of who he is, grasping for an opportunity to fix what’s wrong. It’s a slow uneasy listen with very polished production. The album starts showing itself for what it’s to become. A well balanced sonic meal with minimal driving beats, ambient passages, and John Carpenter style synths all blend and deem themselves appropriate given The Weeknds lyrical content. Asking forgiveness from his lover, this time so they can live a sinful life together. “It’s way too late to save our souls baby”. Loneliness, relatability, and arpeggios are all The Weeknd needs on his side.
Gloomy banger “Faith” featuring Metro Boomin rethinks losing one’s religion, comparing it to Weeknds historic drug addiction. “If I OD, I want you to OD right beside me”. Someone needs to check on this guy. Check on that keyboard too. Those synths are too crispy for it not to have burnt. No surprise that The Weeknd smashed the Apple Music record of pre-adds surpassing 1 million. #1 song in the world right now “Blinding Lights”, Weeknd realizes a constant state of distraction in which the presence of his lover is the only relief. One of the faster songs you’ll hear on “After Dark” is Take on me by A-Ha type drums and blinding synth twinkles will have you driving around these COVID-19 streets fighting germs with the hood of your car. The Weeknd is still pushing the same sonics, style, and topics from the start. After such a self abused, melancholy, drug soaked, and sex filled start, where will we see The Weeknd go next? Probably the same place. An atmospheric place, with lots of alcohol and synthesizers.