I heard “Can’t Feel My Face” in the uni bar the other day and I decided checking The Weeknd out might be a good idea even though he’s a bit too pop for my tastes. I did decide I’d listen to new stuff though so I decided not to judge until I’d heard some of his other stuff. I checked out what reviewers think is his best album and everyone seems to say this one.
So firstly I’ve gotta say, this album is really cool, nothing like the pop that Can’t Feel my Face sounds like. It’s really adult and all about drugs and sex. It’s very dark, gritty and sounds like something out of the 80’s. You can tell he’s talking from his own experiences in life and what he’s gone through. It makes the whole album real and unlike anything I’ve heard before, it’s almost a bit like if Nine Inch Nails went into hip hop instead.
Apparently it started as 3 mixtapes that he made in his own home studio. He released each one as it was done, but it turns out each mixtape was linked to the other and putting all three together in this album tells a story that you wouldn’t have got from the albums by themselves. I think this is incredible and not enough people do this anymore, create works of art around their music and get their creativity out in other ways that compliment it.
The first part, House of Balloons Is more up-tempo and poppy than the rest, which makes it easy to listen to with friends, at a party etc. Most of these songs could easily be on the radio with no worries. It’s got repetitive beats and hooks, it’s easy to listen to and the lyrics don’t go too deep into the dark territory of sex, drugs and violence. It’s pretty much just a good hip-hop album that hints at the darker elements of what he’s going through. The basic story here is that a girl called Valerie falls in love with the Weeknd, who’s only interested in sex, drugs and partying.
The second part, Thursday is where it gets more interesting. It definitely has a different sound from the first part of the album, becoming much more dark and foreboding. It also becomes a sound that’s much more out of hip-hop, this is where it starts to sound more Nine Inch Nails/Radiohead like. The lyrics, music and story all become darker, where it used to be about having fun partying, it becomes more about addiction, the pain comes out and it’s much more menacing. The story becomes how the two becoming co-dependant of each other, but at the same time are tearing each other apart and destroying themselves. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them, but in a really addicted, destructive sense.
The final part, echoes of silence was apparently only OK when released by itself, but made much more sense when it was released as part of the this album. Echoes of silence is filled with callbacks and references to the previous two parts, both in the music and lyrics. It’s just so incredibly depressing and dark it’s actually hard to listen to by itself, but if you’ve listened to the previous two hours first, you’re eased into it. Some of the songs on this part will bring out serious feelings in you whether you want to or not.
This part of the album is about how The Weeknd gives into a temptation with another girl, loses Valerie and becomes self-destructive and destructive to others, even picking up a girl at a club and destroying her completely with drugs and sex.
I’d really recommend listening to this album by yourself, set aside three hours and put on some decent headphones. Sit by yourself and listen to it, and probably keep a pen and paper with you because it’s going to make you feel something for sure! I listened to this on a coach to London in the evening when I had some hours spare and it was almost transformative! Listening to this at Dusk, watching the world go by was surreal.
As always, if you’ve got any suggestions for me, get in touch with me on my contact page!