Canadian R&B artist The Weeknd strikes back with his latest release “After Hours“. The long-awaited album is finally here and has fans screaming “XOTWOD” (XO ‘Till We Overdose) all over and over again. The 56-minute project includes fourteen tracks with the only presence of the man himself – The Weeknd.
Already in the discussion of becoming AOTY (Album Of The Year) as some claim, “After Hours” gives us what we truly crave – shady vibes, memorable synth and beat switches, haunting vocals and most importantly – the painful regret for a loved one that got away. It hurts.
The album paints the picture of a character that finds himself at crossroads with love, suppressed emotions and the struggle to find himself while trying to maintain the “live fast, die young” lifestyle. Also, it exposes the urge of giving it all to someone special. You already know who that “someone” is. Hm, is that maturity I smell?!
Starting with “Alone Again” you can put two and two together. We know exactly why he feels empty, having troubles sleeping and mind playing tricks on him. His inner demons are tearing his soul apart, but that angel voice coming through the instrumentals just sticks with you. “Too Late” is a personal favourite and I am catching some MDM (My Dear Melancholy) vibes on it. Production is progressive and the last 40 seconds are godly – it feels like you are driving a DeLorean DMC-12 right before reaching 88 mph. Some futuristic stuff right there.
I will exclude the singles of “After Hours” from the current review, simply because you can find what my thoughts are in the article written days before the album release here.
Anyway, let’s proceed with “Hardest To Love” and “Scared To Live“. We’ve already heard the live version of the 4th song off the album on SNL, which to be honest didn’t have the same effect it has now as I’ve listened to the studio version. To me, both songs are bonded with similar energy and emotion and have emerging chemistry as you push the repeat button.
Another incredible jam to me and a definite highlight of the album is the song “Snowchild“. Wow, just wow, man. This is the moment I have been waiting for. He switched that flow real smooth, showing everyone how easy killing beats is to him. It’s time to leave Los Angeles, guys, this place is no longer a target on Abel’s bucket list. Now straight to “Escape from LA” – the song shares some poignant but intimate moments in the studio with the urgent need to get away from town. This is just not the place to be. The second verse shows some cool bragging and Keanu Reeves similies, which I quite enjoyed.
Metro Booming, ladies and gentlemen – I give props to him, not only for his amazing work on “Heartless” but on “Faith” as well. Our character is on his knees, questioning his own faith while thinking of taking a colourful mixture of drugs and go back to his old ways. Which in most cases, won’t cause the wanted effect.
With “In Your Eyes“, hands down, the album takes us on a saxophone accompanied trip to the ’80s. I did enjoy the rich instrumentals and melodies everybody can sing loudly. Imagine playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and listening to that song. Oh my God!
“Save Your Tears” is the only track here in this remarkable body of work that I didn’t feel. Couldn’t vibe to it, maybe it will grow as I listen in the future.
No Lana Del Rey interlude this time. Hooray! Don’t get me wrong, I like and respect Lana’s music, but that “Stargirl interlude” on “Starboy” wasn’t it, chief! The interlude “Repeat After Me” feels like you can make babies to it, for real, though. A real panty dropper!
All good things come to an end, as always and the album’s moody finisher “Until I Bleed Out” makes us feel a bit nostalgic that the emotional roller coaster ride is over. At least for now. As The Weeknd said it himself, it is expected to be a long and exhilarating chapter.
In my humble opinion, The Weeknd’s “After Hours” not only delivers top-quality music but, once again, successfully breaks genres with its professionalism, second to none song compositions and production. Lyrical content might feel like it is something we have heard before as of first few listening sessions, but that is no problem for me at all. What’s important is the vibe, which is sprinkled like a narcotic all over the tracks. You keep wanting more and more.
I will not rate “After Hours” with numbers like 9 out of 10, because no one can really measure art and greatness. I would say it is a big step forward, already breaking records within 3 days of release, over a billion streams and most pre-adds in the history of Apple Music. Just waiting for physical copies to arrive and add to my CD collection.
*Favourite tracks: “Too Late“, ” Snowchild“, “Escape From LA“, “Faith“, “Until I Bleed Out“