Running out of tunes during this quarantine season? Now more than ever do we need some melancholies to please our ears. However, fret not as the famed and world-renowned artist The Weeknd has recently released his new project, surprisingly, in amidst of this pandemic. All being said, let’s ponder about what he has to offer in his latest album.
The Weeknd, or otherwise known as Abel Tesfaye, showcases his fourth studio album After Hours, which is arguably his best, with the theme: cinematic and retro. His latest “After Hours” short film begins with him grinning onstage after finishing a performance on a television show. Bruises and slight blood hints are visible around his bandaged nose. As the audience cheers, Abel walks backstage with his made-up smile which eventually fades as he gets emotional and starts crying for help.
In his music video for his single “Heartless”, we see him committing sin after sin in Las Vegas. In this dizzying and trippy clip, Abel and the music’s producer Metro Boomin head to “Sin City” for a boys’ night out – roaming the brightly-lit streets, playing games in the casino, downing drinks, and ending with the two getting high and hallucinating. After giving quite a psychedelic experience, he transitions into a more gory theme I should say, in the “Blinding Lights” video, starting with a scene where Abel laughs maniacally with his nose bleeding and mouth covered in blood, and spends most of the video, if not whole, speeding in his Benz around the city. Lastly, the aforementioned gory theme reaches a relatively disturbing peak in his new video for “In Your Eyes”, which picks up where the “After Hours” short film left off. It depicts Abel getting off an elevator and begins haunting a bloody, seemingly distressed girl, following her around and threatening her with a kitchen knife up to a point where she decides to take the matter into her own hands and after finding an axe, decapitates Abel. Eerily, she then picks up his severed head and starts dancing with it throughout the rest of the video.
After a long time of trying to bring the unique tones of his early mixtapes to the mainstream format, Abel finally reconciles the two and has found harmony between them. He utilizes the ‘80s synth-pop to give the album the aforementioned vintage and retro vibe, this alongside with the awe-inspiring production and The Weeknd’s breathtaking vocal performance makes After Hours one of his best works. Additionally, what differentiates this album from his previous works is the intriguingly unique sense of narrative cohesion between the songs.
“The Weeknd’s music has always been about contrasts, and here the beauty and the madness are more smoothly integrated than ever.” – Variety
Despite worries that the album would fail as it could not be marketed properly due to the coronavirus pandemic, After Hours earns the Year’s Biggest Debut Week. As quoted from The New York Times, the album had 221 million streams and sold 275,000 copies via a variety of bundles with merchandise and tickets to a tour that may have to be postponed. Moreover, a deluxe edition of the album featuring three new bonus tracks was dropped on March 23rd, three days after its initial release.
Hence, After Hours deserves the recognition as the lyrical, musical and cinematic masterpiece it is.
Words by: Devin
Header and Picture Credits: Side Stage Magazine, Cultura Magazine
Sources: Pitchfork, Vulture