Every song on this album feels like unwrapping a Christmas present.
By Katie Sell, Staff Writer
In mid-March, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, known by his stage name The Weeknd, released his fourth studio album: After Hours. I have been a big fan of The Weeknd for many years now for his alluring yet somber tone. His R&B style is so signature that you could recognize it almost anywhere, and not to mention, we’re both Canadian.
Almost two years after his mini-album My Dear Melancholy and four years since his last studio album Starboy, The Weeknd’s comeback proves why he is considered a notorious artist of this generation. The album features 14 songs and is already embellished with top-charting hits such as “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights,” followed closely behind by “In Your Eyes,” “Alone Again” and “After Hours.”
One of my favorite aspects of his new work is the use of dark, 70’s/80’s inspired synth. A lot of the tracks have a strong retro wave mood, yet are still craftily balanced with bass-trap and pop beats alluding to his signature sound. This can be credited to the talented names featured in the album’s production, such as Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, as well as Metro Boomin.
I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that The Weeknd sticks to his roots as many of the songwriters and producers for After Hours are Canadian — a huge plus for me, a Canadian. Tesfaye is also heavily involved in his own art, as he is credited as the primary songwriter for the entire album. His lyrics express themes repeated across all his albums, to which he builds the story with every new addition. Some of the themes found in After Hours are his adverse feelings towards L.A. life, as well as a love letter to on-and-off girlfriend, Bella Hadid.
I first listened to After Hours when I went for a night jog; the weather was perfectly overcast with a light fog. I’m not going to say that the ambiance of my surroundings influenced my judgment, but it definitely heightened the experience. Every new song that played felt like unwrapping a Christmas present. I think this album is the perfect background music to relax, study or hang out with friends, too. The overall pace of it is a mix between My Dear Melancholy and Starboy — it still gives off his signature melancholic aura without sacrificing upbeat melodies.
I usually rate albums based on if I can play them entirely through without wanting to skip any songs, and this album surpasses that criteria. I highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys psychedelic funk, post-punk, hip-hop or soul music.