ENTER MUS-GRAMMYS 200 LA

The Weeknd performs during the 59th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017. 

A broken heart scars deeper than any wound, and in music, song bleeds the remedy.

For Abel Tesfaye, this is all he knows. Embodied by emptiness, Tesfaye (aka The Weeknd) has made a living projecting his inner demons, nimbly and erratically dancing with darkness throughout his entire career.

With past albums such as the critically acclaimed “Trilogy,” Grammy-winning “Beauty Behind the Madness” and 2016 cornerstone “Starboy,” the R&B enigma turned pop-star has transcended an artistic vision further than even he could imagine.

The Weeknd has seemingly defined the genre of R&B since the late 2000’s. Transforming himself into the pop superstar he is today, his massively successful reputation can be attributed to the otherworldly and Hollywood production of “Starboy.”

Granted, The Weeknd has not lost sight of what inspires him most: loss. As he has outwardly shown indifference this past week, the text messages he had published on Instagram seemingly announced this project with a shrug: “Should we drop Friday? I’m indifferent, to be honest,” he typed.

With the star-studded guest list and attention “Starboy” had received, The Weeknd returns to his gauzy and romantic “Trilogy” roots. Dark, atmospheric and ghostly, he stunningly croons on his first release of 2018 with “My Dear Melancholy.”

His indifference clues us into his mindset of romantic disregard, a cry for help perhaps. A possible ploy for a bigger project, this six-track album/EP defines the very essence of The Weeknd’s artistic self.

Ominous, sexual and disorientated, he essentially creates the listener as a fly on his bedroom wall, relating tension with pleasure in the most suffocating fashion.

As the gorgeous production from Gothic, electro king Gesaffelstein (who has also produced for Kanye West) shines immediately within the first 45 seconds of the album, The Weeknd’s masterful melancholy shades more darkness in the shadows of his own personality. With the use of fuzzy synths and stuttering snares, The Weeknd lifts his signature despair to new heights as he lets his heart lie on the floor, beating to the rhythm of gloom.

With tracks such as “Call Out My Name” and “Privilege,” The Weeknd defiantly returns as the unfiltered, intimate and tortured R&B singer. Woozy 808’s and echoing keys perfectly complement his glorious cadences as he performs with romantic agony and hauntingly beautiful wordplay.

Other featured songs “Try Me” and “Wasted Times” describe the nature of The Weeknd’s cyclical yet intoxicated love. He is unapologetic and complacent, calling out to the heavens as well as his lover. Pleading and begging his insecurities, The Weeknd entertains with his soulful vibrato and ear-catching falsetto to bring out the best in his angst-ridden soul.

This album is an 8 out of 10. The majority of the album bears a strong resemblance to “Trilogy” Weeknd, but instead gives us a more hurt, mature and beaten Tesfaye in the process. With a dreary outlook, The Weeknd woos himself further into the darkness with a numb heart and muffled cry for acceptance.

His power resides in his ability to tug at a listener’s heart-strings. The Weeknd’s charm of skillfully blending that urban moody sound with his cutting vocals makes him unforgettable and, most of all, unique. He exploits this pain in not only himself but in his listeners, providing the most intimate experience of his career.

Fear not the labyrinth of lost love, for The Weeknd is here to calm in the darkest of hours with “My Dear Melancholy.”

JONATHAN BARLAS is a Features and Sports reporter for The Vidette. He can be reached at jgbarla@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter @janveselybarlas.

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