Music Review: The Weeknd
Album: My Dear Melancholy
Released: March 30, 2018
Label: XO, Republic
Producer: Frank Dukes, The Weeknd, Cirkut, DaHeala, Gesaffelstein, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Marz, Mike Will, Made it, Skrillex
Genre: Alternative R&B, R&B, electronic pop
It’s new, it’s unique, and you have to listen to it!
Praised, increasingly popular, musical artist and pop-icon The Weeknd has released his first album in almost two years. The new album, titled “My Dear Melancholy,” consists of only six songs full of The Weeknd’s classic slow, hypnotic, R&B-pop fusion.
It has been one and a half years since The Weeknd has released an album following his November 2016 hit album “Starboy,” and it is the topic of much excitement among fans and music lovers galore. “My Dear Melancholy” differs from the more pop-genre style of recent albums and listeners are anxious to dissect the regression back to the original R&B nature of his early music. This summer, The Weeknd is touring in various music festivals and excitement is building for the new life of his music: “My Dear Melancholy”
Canadian singer Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, who goes by the stage name The Weeknd, began anonymously uploading songs to YouTube in 2010, and eight years later a song of his plays every time you turn on the radio for an hour.
Tesfaye’s hazy, drug-induced music has retained this nature from his earliest songs and throughout “My Dear Melancholy.” It is “downcast, bleary-eyed pop,” as Pitchfork magazine’s review described it. Tesfaye came up with the stage name The Weeknd when crediting his high school dropout status, referencing the weekend he walked out of his home forever. What followed was a journey to musical fame, beginning with the moment he anonymously uploaded songs to Youtube that he produced with musical producer Jeremy Rose. In 2011, Tesfaye released his debut album “House of Balloons,” which was met with critical acclaim nearly immediately.
Following this were a few mix-tapes which are now considered the “Balloons Trilogy.” Tesfaye’s music career took off from here, as he began performing at international music festivals, beginning with Coachella. In 2013, Tesfaye released his next album “Kiss Land” in collaboration with Canadian rapper Drake, among others. This quickly bumped Tesfaye up even higher on the popularity scale, topping number two in the U.S. Billboard 200.
Tesfaye continued to release singles for films, landing him on the U.S. Billboard 200 repeatedly In 2015, Tesfaye released his next album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” followed by “Starboy” in 2016. With each album released, The Weeknd achieves even greater success and earns even greater fame.
Tesfaye has won three Grammy Awards and nine Juno Awards.
Following the pattern of an album release every year or two years, on March 30, 2018, The Weeknd released “My Dear Melancholy.”
“My Dear Melancholy” contains the classic, hypnotic, slow, pop and R&B influences that listeners return for. The songs on “My Dear Melancholy” continue to be dark in nature, and retain the hopeless romantic themes that Tesfaye’s music continuously revolves around. The album’s songs focus even more thoroughly on this nihilistic, romantic hopelessness. That said, the album is a calm backdrop to your homework or long drive to work. It is a fun fusion of electronica and R&B.
Pandora Radio describes the songs as having “modern r&b styling, electronic influences, and subtle vocal harmonies.”
A multitude of reviews and fans, ranging from rapper Travis Scott, to Wikipedia, to music magazine “Pitchfork,” comment that “My Dear Melancholy” is a regression towards the original style that bordered more on R&B than on the trendy pop of Tesfaye’s recent music.
Tesfaye produced a “docupoem” (a video that pairs primary source material with poetry reading) titled “He was Never There,” referencing the song in the album “I was never there.” It follows his process of making the album. His anonymous musical collaborators talked throughout it, saying of Tesfaye, “It’s the most vulnerable I think he’s ever been on any record,” and “I mean to me it’s really like, kind of like, cultivating what’s in Abel’s head.”
Upon paying attention to the lyrics, the listener realizes the album is a dark, emotional whirlwind spiraling around the demise of a relationship.
The album begins with the single “Call Out My Name,” and has the other songs “Try Me,” “Wasted Times,” “I was Never there,” “Hurt You,” and “Privilege.”
“I said I didn’t feel nothing baby, but I lied. / I almost cut a piece of myself for your life / Guess I was just another pit stop … So call out my name (call out my name) / so call out my name …” Tesfaye sings in “Call Out My Name.”
The title “My Dear Melancholy” pretty much sums up the world of the album: a soft R&B-style-acknowledgment of Tesfaye’s melancholia. It is a blend of emotion, calmness, and musical fun; a gentle, relaxing hum through your earbuds.