wed 12/08/2020

Album: The Weeknd - After Hours | reviews, news & interviews

Album: The Weeknd - After Hours

Album: The Weeknd - After Hours

Fourth album from R&B superstar impresses after a slow start

The Weeknd prepares for the zombie apocalypse

Let’s talk about “Blinding Lights”. What a sleek single, like an escapee from the acclaimed soundtrack to the film Drive, a polished riff on mid-Eighties synth-pop, ripe for 21st century dancefloors, one of the songs of the year so far, all topped off with the crystal falsetto of Abel Tesfaye, AKA The Weeknd. Is his new album, then, full of other treats that similarly step sideways from his trademark electro-warped hip Los Angeleno R&B, or is it business as (un)usual? The answer is that it’s a bit of both.

The Canadian star has worked with everyone from Kanye West to Ed Sheeran to Kendrick Lamar to Daft Punk and his decade-long career remains in the ascendant, while still drawing plaudits for sonic inventiveness. The Weeknd is that rarest of creatures, a pop star whose work still chomps at the boundaries. After Hours, his fourth album, balances what his fans already like about him with a new twist. It contains 14 songs and the first seven of them travel lyrically around Tesfaye’s usual themes of plaintive sexual desire smudged down into production that rides a strange middle-ground between post-Flying Lotus freakery and a stadium polish redolent of Eighties big hair numbers such as “Drive” by the Cars or John Parr’s “St Elmo’s Fire”.

“She likes my futuristic sound in my new spaceship/Futuristic sex, give it Philip K Dick,” he sings ludicrously on “Snowchild”, while “Hardest to Love” has a skittering drum & bass pattern underpinning his solipsistic sensuality. The Autotune is never far away, nor is the ghost of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, but then “Escape From LA” leads the listener briefly into a sense of jadedness at the celeb gloss of his existence. This continues on the speedier, buzzier “Heartless”, a reflection on the ruthlessness of the music business and what it’s done to him.

For this listener, however, the real gems start coming after the peerless “Blinding Lights” when The Weeknd hits us with the sax-laden La Roux-meets-Michael Jackson bounce of “In Your Eyes”, the gorgeous minor key melodies of “Save Your Tears”, and the shimmering, twitched 4/4 throb of the title track. These raise After Hours up from a decent more-of-the-same album to something chewier, dancier and more involving.

Below: Watch the video for "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd

 

 

The Weeknd is that rarest of creatures, a pop star whose work still chomps at the boundaries

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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