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  • After Hours

    Almost exactly two years ago The Weeknd released My Dear Melancholy, a short 6 track EP recorded on the back of his breakup with Selena Gomez. The EP was a stark departure from the bright pop music of 2016's Starboy and for many fans signaled a return to his signature darker sound while still retaining some of Beauty Behind the Madness and Starboy's pop sensibilities. In a lot of ways this EP feels like a precursor to his 5th LP After Hours. While both experiment with different sub-genres of electronic music they both feature the same dark sound and lyrics combined with flashes of bright pop along with heavy synths. After Hours feels like what The Weeknd sought to achieve on My Dear Melancholy but wrapped up into an album form. Many fans hate the idea of The Weeknd making pop music and for fair reason - Starboy and BBTM are clearly his weakest releases - but here he finally feels like he's figured out how to craft perfect pop music while staying true to his own sound and uniqueness.

    Sequencing
    After Hours may be The Weeknd's best album in terms of sequencing. While he's always been an album artist, here he really nails the execution managing to create an album thats both versatile and unique but incredibly tight and cohesive. Alone Again sets an immediate dark and slow tone which slowly brightens up into pure pop on Scared to Live. Snowchild and Escape to LA bring the pace back down again before it picks up from Heartless through to Save Your Tears before closing with a slower pace. I don't think sequencing has been a weakness for The Weeknd in the past but here everything feels far more intentional than it did on projects like BBTM and Starboy and even feels more carefully placed than the projects that made up Trilogy. As a result the album flows incredibly well and rewards linear listens.

    Production
    The production here is immaculate. I don't think I've heard production of this caliber on a record of this size since possibly as far back as Yeezus. He combines UK Garage, DNB, 80s synthesizers, modern trap drums all into a package that feels cohesive and distinctly 'The Weeknd'. Beats like 'Too Late' and 'Faith' feel like they're rushing at risk of tearing at the seams while the pop-heavy tracks like 'In Your Eyes' feature unique and unusual breakdowns and effects to keep things from feeling formulaic. His team of producers is an unusual mix with hip-hop focused producers like Metro Boomin and Frank Dukes combining with left-field electronic musicians Oneohtrix Point Never and Tame Impala to create the soundscapes here. And yet it never feels disconnected or out of place in part thanks to the great sequencing but also thanks to Abel's ability as a curator. While artists like Travis Scott and Kanye West receive a significant amount of praise for their prowess as curators of album sounds, The Weeknd seems to not receive his fair dues in this regard. he regularly changes his production team entirely in order to differentiate each release and to explore new directions preventing things from being stale.

    Lyrics
    Conventionally speaking The Weeknd is not a great lyricist. That being said he excels at writing simple but effective lyrics. A song like Save Your Tears is never complex lyrically but does an outstanding job at being accessible and meaningful. There are plenty of corny lines on here as is standard for a Weeknd release but in a lot of ways these are a staple of his brand and his sound now. Additionally when he does try and say something heavier he succeeds. 'Snowchild' and 'Until I Bleed Out' feature some of his heaviest and most introspective verses and while not overly complex they are definitely powerful.

    Vocals
    The Weeknd opted for no features on this one and it paid off heavily. Vocal effects and pitching are used throughout to break up the monotony of it being one voice for almost an hour but The Weeknd has always had an excellent voice and has been able to switch between singing and rapping effortlessly. The project never once feels like its dragging on in terms of vocals and the production fits his voice exceedingly well. His vocals aren't quite as raw and strong as they are on a release like Trilogy but tracks like 'Alone Again' feature exceptional vocals.

    Favorite Tracks
    It's hard to pick out favorite tracks from a project full of unique and quality songs but here were some highlights.

    Faith might be his best track ever. The production is absurd and he sounds fantastic on it. Lyrics are some of the best on the project and the outro is absurd.

    Save Your Tears is pop executed to a perfect degree. It might be the most straightforward and least conventionally 'Weeknd' song on the project - along with Scared to Live - but when its done this well it doesn't matter. The 80s revival is in full swing and this song is going to be enormous whether it gets pushed or not.

    Hardest to Love is the right way to use Max Martin. Martin receives a lot of flack in music circles for his formulaic to the point of mathematical pop music but here The Weeknd takes that perfect melody and inserts it over DnB production to create something distinct while still being pop.

    Until I Bleed Out is too short. It's way too short because its so f***ing good. Some of his best writing ever and the production is magnificent and mind-bending to go along with it.

    Least Favorite Track

    Heartless is probably my least favorite here. It's a nice track but it feels simplistic compared to a lot of songs here especially when it segues into a track as good as Faith of which parts feel like what Heartless could have been. It's still a solid track but just not on the caliber of most of the album.

    Summary
    His best project since at least 2013 if not 2011. It's not his best ever but it feels like he finally nailed the type of music he's wanted to be making - an excellent mix of left-field sounds with pop washed in hedonism and depravity.

    Grade: A/A+

  • Nice read!

  • safe 🚬
    OP
    Mar 21
    SPEAKERZBOOMIN

    Nice read!

    Thank you sir

  • nothing but facts sir

  • Didn’t read and Idk but INSTANT CLASSIC

  • john kuro

    nothing but facts sir

  • might be too soon, but i feel like after hours has some of his best vocal performances since the beginning of his career

  • Troy Ave Stan

    Didn’t read and Idk but INSTANT CLASSIC

    damn if troy ave fw it its a real classic

  • john kuro

    nothing but facts sir

  • 👌👌

  • Saw this comment on YouTube, s*** makes so much sense now:

    After Hours is not only the album of the year, but it is The Weeknd’s best work. The album is of course amazing sonically and vocally but what really stands out is the tragic story of the album. To put it simply, Abel takes a girl home from the club in Las Vegas, they form a broken relationship because of how willing Abel is to give into his vices, but it doesn’t matter because she gets infatuated with him. Abel is then feeling down so they take a trip to LA where Abel eventually ends up cheating on her with some random LA girl in the studio. This sends Abel into a spiral of hedonism where he partakes in s***with random women, d***s, alcohol etc. and basically tells his significant other that she should’ve seen this coming until he eventually ODs and is put in an ambulance to be sent to the hospital. Once he makes his recovery he can’t stand not being with his lover but when he returns, she is mad at him even though she tries to hide it and she eventually dissociates from Abel. Abel then pleads with her to get back with him after she sees him at a party but it’s no use, she’s already found another man. Abel tried to convince himself that this situation his love interest has found herself in isn’t reality but deep down he knows it’s true. He then makes one more desperate attempt to get her to take him back but she rejects him. Abel then dies at the end album of the album because he cut himself and bled out. This is what I consider to be the tragedy of Abel Tesfaye and is an incredible depiction of a hedonistic man who gave into his vices and became a monster. As at the end of the story, he is ultimately alone. 10/10

  • All that for a mid album

  • ok but heartless is one of the best tracks actually

  • Save Your Tears love 🥰

  • Glad u enjoy it so much u seem like a big fan

    Good write up

  • john kuro

    nothing but facts sir

  • Agree wit pretty much every point on this. Album of the year.

  • Amazing review king

  • AD3

    All that for a mid album

    We gonna disagree fam. 1st listen was a bit shaky but this ain’t mid after 3 listens. This isn’t that accessible which makes it seem less than it is at first sight. This production/construction is incredible.

  • Tape You

    We gonna disagree fam. 1st listen was a bit shaky but this ain’t mid after 3 listens. This isn’t that accessible which makes it seem less than it is at first sight. This production/construction is incredible.

    MOLLY WITH THE PURPLE RAIN

  • Great review Safe

  • safe 🚬
    OP
    Mar 21
    hannanymous

    Amazing review king

    Thank you my friend

  • safe 🚬
    OP
    Mar 21
    MITCH AKA SEX

    Glad u enjoy it so much u seem like a big fan

    Good write up

    I’m a big Weeknd fan yessir thank you

  • safe 🚬
    OP
    Mar 21
    DevilOrAngel

    Great review Safe

    Thank you

  • safe 🚬
    OP
    Mar 21
    LABRADOR

    might be too soon, but i feel like after hours has some of his best vocal performances since the beginning of his career

    Agree
    He’s a lot more vocally ambitious here than he has been in a while too

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