It’s The Weeknd, So Lets Cheers to That.. Maybe
I finally got my hands on the official debut album by The Weeknd. After leaking into our hearts, depressively might I add, The Weeknd garnered a completely new audience with the release of three mixtapes: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. With that being said, only fittingly would he name his debut album Trilogy.
However to my dismay, and many others, we had already the entire track list of 30 songs despite 3 new tracks. The Weeknd penned a letter to fans addressing the backlash, stating that,
..he would not disappoint,
(read the full excerpt here). I have to disagree and say that The Weeknd I came to love and adore did not deliver on his debut album. I would normally do a track by track review, but honestly the album doesn’t call for it. Check out my thoughts below.
If you enjoyed the distortion that each mixtape delivered, you will sadly regret the remastered tracks. Although the attempts to remain as depressing and truthful is evident, each track just doesn’t evoke the same emotion compared to the unmastered releases. For instance, the fuzzy and cloudiness on the opening track, High for This, is almost completely absent which makes the track very lackluster. Especially when the bass drops.
As you progress through the album, you may even realize that some tracks haven’t even been changed. Or seemingly. Gone, on the segment of Thursday, has been revamped completely by staccato bass patterns and a much more confusing synth riff that circles the track quite annoyingly. I prefer the fuzzier prerelease track in regards to this. I don’t necessarily hate the new allocation on the second half of the song though. Somehow the cleanliness works here.
However, on certain tracks you will appreciate the remaster. I found that the songs that usually feature the girl speaking (Lonely Star) and singing (The Birds, Pt. 2) are quite plausible only because you now know what the fuck she is finally saying. Excuse the French. But honestly these two reasons were the only ones I could find that validated the remaster.
On the flip side though, you also now notice how quite off-key The Weeknd sings. Before you go mentioning that it’s apart of his art, I recognize this. However at the same time some cracks, squeaks and other minor brash annoyances are quite evident and I doubt their intentionality. You also recognize that some tracks have actually been slowed down in some segments for reasons unknown. Maybe the track didn’t lay in tempo on these parts. Not quite sure. You may, or may not, notice some additional harmonies or the lack thereof on most of the tracks as well.
To continue, each mixtape, although part of the actual “trilogy,” do not work seamlessly together. In laymen terms, it just becomes three projects in one. Each mixtape begins ballad-like to heavy to conclusion from brashness to mellowness and in-your-face to soothing disdain. However when they are played one after another your emotional state may change. Ha. Okay maybe not, but you will constantly notice that you are involved in the track then left out in the rain many times.
You will also notice, and I also think new listeners will notice this as well, when each new segment begins. Meaning when part one is finished and you’re now on part two. Like when The Weeknd ends on Valerie then croons about Diana on the following track. I would have liked to see some sort of cohesiveness on the album by renumbering the tracks to line up to one on-set emotion. Yes I’m quite aware this would change the “creative direction” of the album and the title would not be so fitting, but maybe that’s what he needed.
As for the new tracks: Twenty Eight, Valerie and Till Dawn (Here Comes the Sun), I’m only mildly impressed. I think The Weeknd meant to use them as conclusions that would make the transition into the next segment more clean, but like I stated above, they just don’t work. Nor do they go with the segment they are included in. Again, I think reordering the album might have helped this. I’ll do a quick track by track review of these.
Twenty Eight – I like the direction of the song until the entrance of the drums. I would have loved to hear a ballad acoustic set instead. Repetition is good, but here I would have liked to hear an actual new track. I’m almost convinced this track was a leftover from Thursday. Gets boring quite quickly.
Valerie – Reminds me of an old Aaliyah-influenced track in the beginning. Not really feeling this one quite honestly. Same old, same old.
Till Dawn (Here Comes the Sun) – My favorite of the new editions simply based on the production. Very Indie inspired. A rushing wind sound graces the listener like a brash blue moon over a semi-staccato repetitive synth chord. Vocality here is nice because of the simplicity that you haven’t experienced throughout the other tracks. Thumbs up to this one.
In conclusion, for fans of The Weeknd before the days of Drizzy Drake, you may be disappointed. Or bored since you’ve heard nearly 95% of the album already. However, I think this could have been avoided if The Weeknd had rearranged the tracklist to make the album seem as one cohesive project instead of three jumbled ones. Or he could have just done a completely new album.