Abél Tesfaye, or more prominently known as The Weeknd, has been easing himself slowly into the life of mainstream music over his past few records, and just less than a week ago he released his third studio album, Starboy.
The Weeknd was always an indie act in the mainstream eye, and it wasn't until two years ago that he really catapulted to fame with some chart-topping guest features like Elastic Heart with Sia and others like Ariana Grande. And from there, starting with last year's mixed release of his sophomore record Beauty Behind the Madness, he was incorporating more pop and funk elements into his style, with a dash of 80's influence and the always present moody RnB. The comparisons to Michael Jackson were justifiable and reasonable, but he wasn't all that much of a popstar anyways.
A year later and after some amazing singles such as Can't Feel My Face and The Hills, hype was always going to grow leading up to Starboy. And with the first single, he's more than just captured the effectiveness of electro-pop with a dose of streaming bass and a light piano serving as a backdrop to the single. It's a great track, but much less can be said the same for False Alarm, the second single off of Starboy, and while it has been growing on listeners (me included), it's not even closely on par with Starboy. The trend is unfortunately followed throughout the release.
Some glaring issues aside, Starboy is an enjoyable record from start to finish. To those that expected a Trilogy and Kiss Land refresher, they probably would find a handful to take away from this release. Otherwise, Starboy is merely just better than Beauty, but merely just, and it's pretty disappointing for such an anticipated one at that.
In hindsight, have we seen it coming? More or less, yes. Beauty took on a more pop standard release with one of the biggest, and best, pop single of the decade (Can't Feel My Face), but after Kiss Land, The Weeknd has been pushing more towards the pop genre and away from what made his music so unique in a sense. He's shifted to an accessible tone, but at the cost of redundant tracks, repetitive moments, and reduced the bleakness of the albums.
So many tracks could've been removed from this experience that creeps over by a little over an hour. While some catchy tunes and heartfelt moments 'save' the release, it is no wonder the frustrations are distinctly visible now.
Still, this is not a terrible release. Is it plagued with problems? No doubt, but does it mean it doesn't have its fair share of brilliance? Nope. Starboy, Love to Lay, Sidewalks and I Feel It Coming are the better tracks on this album and share some of the highlights altogether. The album is mired in issues but there's definitely more good than bad here. Let's hope there's more of the roll than the slice from The Weeknd in the future.
Favourite Tracks: Love to Lay, Sidewalks, I Feel It Coming
Least Favourite Tracks: Attention, All I Know
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.