After Hours | The Weeknd Returns to his Roots

It is hard to believe that it has been close to a decade since The Weeknd made his music debut. His buzz first began in 2011 with his three mixtapes that lead to his first full EP, ‘The Trilogy’. Since then, he’s released three studio albums. All three have represented different moments and sounds in his career. His debut album, “Kiss Land”, followed suit closely in a combination of what was present on his earlier works and what was current in contemporary music. With the assistance of Drake, there is much to be taken into consideration for his future. Fast forward to 2015 and the highly anticipated second album he released that summer, “Beauty Behind the Madness”. The album would give him his first two number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, “The Hills” and “I Can’t Feel My Face”. A little over a year later, the largely successful “Starboy” album was released to mixed criticism, though the title track would also become a number one single.

While he did release an EP in 2018, much hasn’t been heard from the singer-songwriter over the course of the past few years. That is, of course, until now. The lead single from his new album, “Heartless”, would become his fourth #1 single as a solo artist. The track is a fine-tune uptempo ballad highlighting the philosophy of heartbreak for a man. It has quickly become a major radio hit. The second single, “Blinding Lights”, instead finds the enigma flirting with his Michael Jackson influences perhaps as fluent as ever since “I Feel it Coming” became in 2017. Singles aside, the album had high expectations, as many had assumed the artist had already reached his creative peak.

For those who had that assumption, they are proved beyond wrong in what is The Weeknd’s most impressive trek since his debut effort. “After Hours” finds him in touch and confident with the sounds that have made him a star, yet, digging deep enough in relatable lyrics and dynamite musicality that will dominate streaming services. For those looking for emotional rollercoasters, you’ll find solace in the records “Save Your Tears”, “Hardest to Love”, and “In Your Eyes”. For those looking for good-hearted contemporary R&B, look no further than the standouts “Scared to Live” and “Escape from LA”. 

The album’s greatest strength is its ability to flow smoothly with nothing sounding out of sync — a rarity that the artist has not achieved in quite some time. While a large number of future hit singles on the project may not be in its future, the quality is by far finding The Weeknd at his finest every day of the week. 

March 25, 2020

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