The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) is an alternative R&B singer from Toronto, Canada and broke out on the internet with the mixtapes collected in the ‘Trilogy’. These mixtapes had a moody and emotional sound. He later released his debut album ‘Kissland’, which was received generally well. He has slowly been gaining a large and dedicated following, which eventually led to his super star fame.
The Weeknd has been given a lot of attention lately with his appearance on the Fifty Shades Of Grey soundtrack and his major breakout radio song ‘Can’t Feel My Face’. A highly toned down version of Abel’s usual topics and lyrics. His rise in the world of pop shows in this album which is more pop influenced and focused. Some older fans may not enjoy this transition, but this is a risk Abel decided to take.
With a massive amount of momentum behind him ‘Beauty Behind The Madness’ sees a pop influenced album in which the production is smoothed out and is made more accessible to a larger audience. However this album is still dark, moody and contains lyrics about drugs and objectifying women. Abel has not changed much. One thing that this album has gained is a heavy criticism of Abel’s lyrics, with many critics calling him misogynistic. And honestly they have a point that needs to be taken into consideration.
“I’m the n-gga with the hair / Singin’ ’bout / Poppin’ pills / F–kin’ bitches / Livin’ life so trill.” Sings Abel on ‘Tell Your Friends’, perfectly encapsulating the majority of his lyrics. He does dabble into some deep emotional themes but it relies on whether you believe him, for it to leave an impact. He repeats his same tropes on songs like ‘Acquainted’ and ‘Dark Times’ with Ed Sheeren that he usually sings, so once again, don’t expect much of a change on this new album.
Vocally Abel hasn’t changed much either, unlike the production he doesn’t experiment at all. However he does have a nice and smooth voice that, for the most part, is full of emotion. There isn’t much you can complain about Abel’s voice because it is pretty great, which is showcased on songs like ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ and ‘Acquainted’.
This album was interesting as production wise you hear Abel experimenting more, not just in R&B but also dabbling into soul, funk, rock and pop. It is refreshing to hear more stylistic risks in this album and it really does make the album more listenable. However this means that every song seems to stand out on its own, that they do not blend well into the album as a whole. It feels like a collection of singles.
The songs I found myself enjoying the most have been around for a while now, ‘Often ’, ‘The Hills’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, not much else on the album lives up to these singles, nothing else were as entertaining or as well realised.
Near the ending, the song ‘Prisoner ‘featuring Lana Del Ray is a nice touch, with Lana being the girl he sings about, and The Weeknd being the man she sings about, something The Weeknd acknowledged interview with Pitchfork.
If you don’t buy into The Weeknd’s emotionally charged lyrics then you won’t really like this album. If you look at the puppy dog eyes on the cover and think that it looks forced or fake, then this album is not for you. You need to buy into his “Bad boy” persona that he loves so much.
Written by Rhys Prka
Fav Tracks: Tell Your Friends, Often, The Hills, Can’t Feel My Face
Least Fav: Losers, In The Night
Release Date: Aug 28