Favorite Track: In Your Eyes Least Favorite Track: Escape From LA
Eight years ago Canadian singer Abel Tesfaye adopted the moniker The Weeknd, and released a series of mixtapes which he entitled “The Trilogy”. My introduction to him wasn’t through these tapes though. The way I discovered Abel seems to be the most common among listeners; through his 2015 hit, “Can’t Feel My Face” off of his sophomore studio album: Beauty Behind the Madness. After hearing what The Weeknd’s catalog previously consisted of, I can confidently say he was one of my least favorite mainstream musicians to come from the era of my adolescence. However, that brings us to his newest project and fourth studio album, After Hours, which in my opinion is what any outsider should check out first if you are trying to get into The Weeknd. This is and most likely will always be the quintessential release in Abel’s catalog. After Hours is the sound of Abel Tesfaye growing up. To the dismay of his die-hard fans, it seems as if he is attempting to kick the drug-fueled, womanizing, lifestyle that propelled him into the role of R&B’s antihero. In its place he has brought us bright, vivid, 80’s, New Wave revival coupled with a new persona and style. I have to admit, I prefer the latter to the former. After Hours effectively sounds like everything that was previously missing from The Weeknd. Most notably, he finally provides interesting production to compliment his ridiculous vocal ability. I am rarely partial to singers who employ a falsetto-heavy style, Tesfaye is no exception, but now we have gotten synthetic bliss to compliment his falsetto which I find to be a much more active and memorable sound than the dark, gloomy, and boring composition of his former work. He trades his usual seductive braggadocio for biographical accounts of a man trying to clean himself up. On the gorgeous, spotlit, ballad “Sacred to Live”, Abel sings “I am not the man I used to be, did some things I couldn’t let you see.” It’s a harsh contrast to the misogyny displayed on “Heartless”, but no recovery comes without relapses. On After Hours The Weeknd honestly and nobally displays the lows and highs of revitalizing your life, and in doing so he revitalizes his creative trajectory.