“You can find love, fear, friends, enemies, violence, dancing, sex, demons, angels, loneliness and togetherness in the After Hours of the night” – The Weeknd.
‘After Hours’ marks Abel Tesfaye’s (The Weeknd) fourth studio album, as he returns to that unforgettable fragile falsetto, hazy atmospherics and whispering confessions.
In fact, this is Tesfaye’s first studio album without any featured artists.
Get ready to tune into some serious tunes, as Tesfaye takes abstract production to another level with high voltage whistling sirens to a shuffling bass plus much more.
Upon first listening, the album definitely has that underground warehouse party pulsing rhythm, making Tesfaye’s typical low-key R&B balls that bit more thrilling and lively.
The album’s production elements see the return of long-time Weeknd producer, Illangelo and Max Martin, who helped craft Tesfaye’s memorable number one hit, ‘Can’t Feel My Face’.
Even homegrown WA lad, Kevin Parker lurks co-writing and producing ‘Repeat After Me (Interlude)’ alongside Lopatin and Tesfaye.
Those 80’s production elements really shine throughout the record, ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘Save Your Tears’ thrive off the energetic synths which take you into a glitzy 80’s roller dome party.
The aesthetic is pretty clear with its time-travelled psychedelic flavour, suggestively taking inspiration from the thriller film, ‘Uncut Gems’.
With 14 tunes packed into the album, here are ya gal’s top six tunes because five was impossible.
‘Too Late’ is an energetic, synth-powered tune featuring Tesfaye asking for forgiveness from his lover. The production takes elements of UK garage, with similar undertones to ‘Wasted Times’ from the ‘My Dear Melancholy’ EP.
In the chorus, Tesfaye sings of the complexities of fame, articulating the gradual feeling of losing his soul by living superficially, taking us all back to that iconic ‘Starboy’ album. Interestingly, Tesfaye chooses to the end to his listener, almost signifying there is no turning back when it comes to his current lifestyle, as he sings, “it’s way too late to save my, my”.
‘Snowchild’ is probably my biggest favourite off the record. Upon first listening, it reminds me so much of ‘The Morning’ from Tesfaye’s earlier works, ‘House of Balloons’ (2011).
Heavily retrospective, Tesfaye goes back to his past by addressing his acceleration to fame and past vices like drugs and women that became even greater as he progressed. Tesfaye takes no shame in taking us all on the ride of his life, particularly detailing his drug hidden past, as he sings, “couldn’t even breath and for the money I was fiending”.
But what’s even more interesting about this tune in particular is the chorus’ reference to ‘The Morning’. As Tesfaye contrasts the lyrics of him leaving for fame in ‘The Morning’ to ‘Snowchild’ where he articulates about his home return, as his infatuation with stardom has changed amidst his real-life experience.
‘Heartless’ dropped last year and it became the lead single off the fourth studio album. Once again, Tesfaye sings in the chorus of the insensitivity he believes his acquired due to his experiences in the ‘blinding lights’ of fame and the cynical repercussions that are often associated. But the tone is quite dark, as Tesfaye details a growing heartlessness, echoing his loneliness with fame and money.
Definitely far from a dance tune, ‘Faith’ is much more of a low-key banger, as Tesfaye explored common themes of hedonism and partying alongside the beats of Metro Boomin. Tesfaye’s brutal yet admirable honesty is once again present as he compares his drug addiction to losing one’s religion, which perhaps is an escape from the fame and money that swirls around him. The ambient synths and sirens in the background are somewhat deceiving as Tesfaye subtly alerts us to his problems with fame, “when I’m coming down is the most I feel alone”.
Definitely one of the more 80s fuelled dance tunes, ‘Save Your Tears’ stands out with its powering synths contrasted to the more darker, sullen tunes earlier in the album. Many have suggested this tune may be about his ex-girlfriend, Bella Hadid. Here, Tesfaye lays it all out on the table, as he explores the reasons behind his abandonment of past relationship problems and confrontation issues. One lyric tells it all, as Tesfaye sings, “I don’t know why I run away, I’ll make you cry when I run away”.
We couldn’t leave the list without giving, ‘After Hours’ some well-deserved air-time. There’s something about Tesfaye’s vulnerability in the song that draws you in, as you really can hear every detail. There’s quite a darkness as Tesfaye’s warped vocals which echo the pain that comes with heartbreak, merge to a rather bold production ensures that signature ‘Weeknd sound’ lives on.
So what are you waiting for? Go nab your very own copy of The Weeknd’s ‘After Hours’ album HERE.