By Julie Santiago
“After Hours” is one of the most elaborate albums put together today. Canadian singer The Weeknd released the full album Thursday.
Three songs on the album, “Heartless,” “Blinding Lights” and “After Hours” had dropped late last year, with the last being released in February.
All the songs flow together and seem to follow a theme. Like his previous albums, Heartbreak and drug references are widely mentioned throughout. “But if I OD, I want you to OD right beside,” are some of the sentimental lyrics for his song “Faith.” However, we also see The Weeknd open up about his personal life on this album. “I used to pray when I was sixteen. If I didn’t make it, then I’d probably make my wrist bleed,” wrote The Weeknd for his song “Snowchild” which most likely is referencing cocaine and/or being from Toronto where it snows a lot.
“Escape From LA” is another song about his personal life. In particular, it is a song about his life after fame. While many of the songs on the album are full of bass and synths, they are rarely danceable. The deluxe version of “After Hours,” released Sunday night, included a Saturday Night Live Performance recording of “Scared to Live” and remixes of his most popular tracks. Only one of the four remixes produced is upbeat while the rest remain chill and mostly meant for listening.
So far, the music videos released for the album, “Blinding Lights” and “After Hours,” seem to follow a plot. They show him under the influence with a broken nose wearing a Michael Jackson-style red jacket with matching shoes and gloves.
The videos are fun, experimental and accompany the bold music well. This album uses just about every sound in the tool box without being excessive or compromising style. The Weeknd’s unique, soft, high-pitched voice and falsettos remain recognizable and the center of his music.
The Weeknd doesn’t limit himself to traditional R&B beats. The album makes use of laser sounds, sirens and even a Kenny G-style saxophone riff. “After Hours” is layered with deep bass, heavy beats, echoe effects, keyboard and synth sounds that either compliment or contrast his voice.
The keyboards on the album often sound like they are out of a movie and work well with his voice, making him sound angelic at times. While many of the songs on the album are catchy, they are not overly repetitive. Certain sounds resemble past and contemporary music influences, which help a few songs feel nostalgic.
“In Your Eyes” is a good example of the ’80s and Michael Jackson influence. Keyboard sounds from “Save Your Tears” resemble the ’80s and early 2000s electronic band Depeche Mode.
An article by Variety said The Weeknd had many producers collaborate with him on the album. This has helped him put together R&B music that is textured and progressive.