It’s been a month since The Weeknd dropped his sixth record, ‘After Hours’. For four whole weeks we’ve been blessed with the pulsating 80s beats blending seamlessly with contemporary sound, of lyrics depicting sex and drugs and love and loss.
By creating his very own personal Vegas, a sinking pool of sin and self-indulgence, The Weeknd captures a piece of pure pop magic with his latest album – which is probably why it’s been such a savage force on the charts and has cemented him as the #1 artist on Spotify, globally.
Speak to any fan of the XO-star and most – if not all – will tell you that ‘Trilogy’ is his best body of work, even if it isn’t their personal favourite. With its simplistic, yet dark and brooding, production, mixed with gut-punching lyrics, it remains as one of the best RnB records release in the past decade. ‘After Hours’, though, is definitely up there to share that throne.
Stripping back the glitzy pure pop of the ‘Starboy’ era, ‘After Hours’ taps into the sad and sultry, the hedonism and price of fame. His lyrics are painstakingly honest, pure and biting, allowing a peak at the struggles that plague the very depths of Abel’s mind.
From the 80s-inspired, futuristic yet retro beats of ‘Blinding Lights’, to the booming, commanding bass of the title track, ‘After Hours’ remains consistent throughout, with each song a cohesive chapter both sonically and thematically – juggling the role of self-loathing waster and narcissistic prince with ease.
‘Faith’ is the pinnacle of the record, with brutually honest lyrics like: “I’ve been sober for a year, now it’s time for me to go back to my old ways, don’t you cry for me / Thought I’d be a better man, but I lied to me and to you,” and a two-part espionage that makes The Weeknd’s music so special, it remains as one of my most played tracks off the record so far.
‘After Hours’ has a heavy sense of darkness brooding behind every fold of every track, whether Abel is saying “I used to pray when I was sixteen, if I didn’t make it then I’d probably make my wrist bleed” on Snowchild, or confessing the lost love from his former muse, yet it somehow manages to contain a heavy glimmer of relatability. By being so open with his inner demons, The Weeknd invites his fans to a glimpse of authenticity that’s hard to come by.
His voice is obviously a key highlight of the album, reaching almost-unobtainable heights that are crystal clear against the booming echoes of production. ‘Alone Again’ – one of the best opening tracks of any album – features a mixed bag of synths, hard-hitting lyrics and – of course – Abel’s enviable vocal talent.
A month later, and on 4/20, no less, ‘After Hours’ already remains as a golden nugget within The Weeknd’s discography, the perfect accompaniment for endless dark lonely nights, where The Weeknd’s sultry vocals offer some form of solace.
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