You would think that a Weeknd album featuring Daft Punk, Lana Del Rey and Kendrick Lamar would be nothing short of amazing, but sadly this is not even close to being the case.
Abel has chosen to move away from his R&B roots and try his hand at pop music, as he remarked in his interview with Zane Lowe he wants to “make pop cool”. Abel saw huge success with two singles from last years Beauty Behind the Madness from his more pop-oriented songs (The Hills & Can’t Feel My Face) and has seemingly decided he wants to capitalize on this. Unfortunately he hasn’t succeeded, there are singles on this album which are great and have seen mainstream success in Starboy & Party Monster, however it was seemingly not necessary to fill his whole album with pop songs. The mainstream audience will not listen to whole albums and his core audience will not like this album.
It’s not like this album is necessarily bad, it’s just nothing special. Previous Weeknd albums had meaningful songs, even Beauty Behind The Madness which received mixed reviews from Weeknd fans, however it feels like Abel has run out of things to say with many tracks seemingly being about nothing or just rehashing the same old themes of sex, drugs or the pitfalls of fame. There are some tracks which have substance such as Sidewalks, but then we have tracks such as the bland Rockin’ which is yet another Weeknd song about casual sex and Attention which repeats the same lyrics about a girl that is “only looking for attention”.
But let’s not get too negative and try to look at some of the positives. The album starts with Starboy, a collaboration with Daft Punk which doesn’t disappoint. A sleek and distinctively Daft Punk instrumental is backed up by catchy lyrics, but again despite being catchy when we examine the actual lyrics they are not particularly creative although this can be forgiven as this is a pop song and a cool one at that. Daft Punk also close the album featuring on the track I Feel It Coming, a Michael Jackson-esque song over another stellar instrumental and unlike the many Weeknd songs about girls that are purely about casual sex it seems like Abel is finally singing about wanting more from a relationship.
The highlight of this album for me is Lana Del Rey’s appearance on Stargirl Interlude, the two artists have great chemistry whenever they work together and this is no exception. Lana’s flawless performance as the ‘Stargirl’ is followed by Abel to make a perfect track whose only downside is that it’s not long enough. Lana also co-wrote the other highlight of this record Party Monster as well as lending her vocal skills to the track.
What makes this album unbearable however, is the excruciatingly long length. There are so many unnecessary tracks on this album that make you wonder when it will finally end. This could have been a fairly decent album, if only the good tracks were kept and all the fillers trimmed.
All in all, this album fails to live up to the hype that the Weeknd has been gathering recently and unfortunately his attempt at updating his style has gone in the wrong direction. This album lacks story, heart and creativity only being saved by it’s phenomenal features and catchy choruses. It’s not bad, but I expected more from The Weeknd and he didn’t deliver.
Rating: 6/10 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥