This was in my top 3 most anticipated albums of the year. The Weeknd came into the game on fire with House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence. Nevermind the countless “features” that probably would’ve been better had he kept the songs for himself. He established his own signature sound early: a dark R&B motif featuring production full of slow tempos, forlorn echoes and constant allusions to cocaine and sex, contrasted with high falsetto’s and an extensive vocal range. He couldn’t miss. That being said, it was quite disappointing when he released his debut album Kiss Land. Although there we a few gems on there ( Tears in the Rain, Wanderlust), it seemed like he struggled to find the balance between conveying his unique style of R&B, and reaching a wider audience.
It seems like he perfected the formula with Beauty Behind the Madness. The Weeknd took the same subject matter that he’s always sang about, and gave it to his listeners in a variety of genres. Let’s start with his first number one single: Can’t Feel My Face. While at first listen the song sounds like it could be in a commercial for NOW That’s What I Call Music 454, the undertones of sex and cocaine are still very prevalent. On the song Dark Times, he recruits the help Ed Sheeran, and the duo gives us a soulful ballad with lines about drunk nights and street fights. The last song on the album, titled Angel, shows us a side of the artist we’ve never seen before. He shows new-found versatility by changing perspectives from his usual emotionless and desensitized encounters, to taking a more selfless and sorrowful approach.
However, his core fans shouldn’t be alarmed. Songs like Real Life, Often, The Hills and Acquaintance, still gives fans of his earlier work the production and vocals they’ve grown to love. He says it best on the Kanye produced Tell Your Friends,” Im that nigga with hair singing bout poppin pills, fuckin bitches, living life sooo trill.”
Overall, if you’re looking to only hear the same sound that The Weeknd gave us on Trilogy then you”ll be slightly disappointed. That being said, the album is well put together across the board from production to the writing, to the overall sound.
I give it a 4/5.