I Meant To Listen To: The Weeknd, “After Hours”

Okay, fine.

This album just came out like what, two weeks ago? It’s not like I’ve missed out on this album by any stretch. But we’re all self-quarantined at the moment and I’m looking for something new to listen to. With that said, what I have probably missed out on is any and all releases from The Weeknd pre, or post- “Can’t Feel My Face”, that undeniable mega-smash from 2015. What drew me to that song, besides that nasty catchy-as-hell hook, is that slick bass line and sound that sounds like the perfect marriage of Prince-esque funk and the most disco-ed out Daft Punk. Fortunately for me, doing research while I am currently typing this out, The Weeknd had teamed up with Daft Punk in 2016 for the other song I guess I was familiar with, “I Feel It Coming“.

Between then and now I may have heard more from The Weeknd, but I am not too sure. At the place where I used to work, the radio would be locked on the stations that would play tunes similar to this I suppose, and frankly I found most of it horrible to listen to. It’s just ain’t for me is all. For example, I began listening to Khalid on a whim and really, really enjoyed Free Spirit, yet the radio only played one of his songs over and over and over again and now my skin begins to crawl and I don’t walk to talk about it anymore.

But The Weeknd has remained not only just relevant, but at the forefront of the scene regardless if I pay any attention to it or not and when his latest album came out it did ping my radar. And obviously with most of us having a bit more time on our hands than normal, I figure to make the most of it and give After Hours a listen.

It definitely took a few listens to have it penetrate. At first, most of the tracks kind of blended into each other and didn’t grab me, but at least it sounded nice. Musically, it was great to have playing in the background while doing things around the house. I’ve always been a “music first, lyrics second” guy, so most of the hard hitting lyrical delivery will often end up sneaking past on the first couple plays, but I am glad I stuck with it.

Lovelorn melancholy with a fragile falsetto is the clear strength of the artist behind The Weeknd, Abel Tesfaye, as evidenced by tracks like “Snowchild” and the album’s opener, “Alone Again”. Personally I really enjoyed the scene-stealing “Scared To Live” as it sounds like a character-defining montage in a well made rom-com. The clever vocal nod to Elton John’s “Your Song” in the hook was a fabulous icing on the cake.

Where I feel After Hours truly hits it’s stride is in the heart of the album coincidentally¬† beginning with “Heartless“. Dark and sultry with a soul-shaking bass, it hits all the right notes for me and it leads into the fantastically retro-wave inspired “Faith”. The retro synths continue even deeper into my favorite track on the album, “Blinding Lights”, a song that shoots Tesfaye into another atmosphere. It totally brought me back to when “Can’t Feel My Face” first hit me leaving me wanting to reach that high again. Finishing up the killer suite of songs on the album are the funky “In Your Eyes” and “Save Your Tears”, a cute ditty of heartbreak with a hell of a driving beat.

I’m happy I gave After Hours a few more dedicated listens rather than have it relegated to playing in the background when I scramble eggs when I cook breakfast on the weekends. Since every day is the weekend right now, I have the time to discover what other gems I may have missed from The Weeknd.

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