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Music Review: After Hours by The Weeknd


Friday, March 20 saw the release of “After Hours,” the fourth studio album by Canadian singer The Weeknd, a record which was highly praised by critics as his best album to date.

“After Hours” was supported by a promotional single, its title track, along with three other singles: “Heartless,” “Blinding Lights” and “In Your Eyes.”

Overall, “After Hours” is a dark, 1980s-inspired romp that holds a solid consistency through its 14 tracks.

There’s no song on the record that is terrible, but a weak introduction does stray towards the mediocre. Regardless, sharp synths and well-produced beats, along with the Weeknd’s signature falsetto, make this record an interesting listening experience.

Highlights

1. “Blinding Lights”

This is a song that you will likely hear on every contemporary radio station now, because “Blinding Lights” sounds like it was built for radio. The song’s synth-pop groove and The Weeknd’s vocals cause it to be incredibly catchy, building off of 1980s nostalgia while still charting its own course.

2. “Scared To Live”

Nostalgic drums and The Weeknd’s falsetto tie into a song that ventures into an awkward place melodically near the end but is nonetheless a catchy track.

3. “Save Your Tears”

A more mellow track on the album, the synth riff coupled with R&B roots make this an interesting listen.

Background

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, started his music career in 2010 when he met producer Jeremy Rose. The two worked on an album but ended up only creating three songs to be released: “What You Need,” “Loft Music” and “The Morning.” Tesfaye uploaded these three songs anonymously to YouTube that December, crediting himself as The Weeknd.

The following year, he released a trilogy of mixtapes. “House of Balloons” was dropped in March, followed by “Thursday” in August and “Echoes of Silence” in December.

After embarking on his first tour and signing with Republic Records, Tesfaye released a compilation album, “Trilogy,” which contained material from the three mixtapes as well as three new songs. The compilation was certified platinum, and his debut studio album, “Kiss Land,” was released the following year.

“Beauty Behind the Madness,” Tesfaye’s second album, was released in 2015. The album’s singles caused him to become the first male artist in history to attain the top three spots on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart at the same time.

His third album, “Starboy,” was released the next year, and “My Dear Melancholy,” Tesfaye’s first extended play, dropped in 2018. The name of his latest record, “After Hours,” was announced in February 2020.

This album seems to me like a stylistic cousin to Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia,” like the two are on opposite ends of a day.

The cruising synthesizers on “After Hours” help invoke a time from long ago, which aids in the album’s production. I’m glad to see The Weeknd reinventing his sound and utilizing nostalgia to craft his music, because it’s lending to some real gems. I’m excited to see what path he follows next.