The Weeknd – My Dear Melancholy [Album], Almost seven years to the day after the release of The Weeknds galvanizing debut mixtape, House of Balloons an outing that basically created the dark-alt-R&B sound that so many artists have built careers on the prolific Abel Tesfaye says hello to darkness, his old friend on a new six-song/22-minute EP whose title is pure truth in advertising: My Dear Melancholy, (and thats not a typo the official title includes a comma at the end, like the beginning of a letter).
True to its sort-of surprise arrival it was teased, fairly obviously, in the week leading up to its release the outing feels like an interlude in a career thats already featured several big statements and changes of direction. There are no blockbuster hit singles like I Cant Feel My Face or Starboy, but the melodic directness and Michael Jackson vocalisms of those songs is here, just buried under clouds of sad synthesizers and downcast beats for example, a peppy remix could transform Hurt You into a shiny suit rather than the dark hoodie its wearing here.
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Well leave that to them, but musically the album features several previous collaborators (Cirkut, Daheala, Mike Will Made It, Daft Punks Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo) as well as co-executive producer and fellow Canadian Frank Dukes (Frank Ocean, Camila Cabello, one track on Starboy), Skrillex, French producer Gesaffelstein and Chilean broodmaster Nicolas Jaar. All help bring in the darkness, although their contributions arent instantly recognizable and meld into The Weeknds overall vibe. (Theres also a hook that sounds like the crazy theme from Quentin Tarantinos Kill Bill that wailing screech when the picture blanches and Uma Thurman has a dark flashback grafted into I Was Never There.)
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So as best can be told in a morning-after hot take, My Dear Melancholy, feels more like a transition, a way station on the journey to wherever The Weeknd is going next and its a credit to this prolific and ever-evolving artist that he manages to be creatively restless and never stay in the same place for long while always sounding unmistakably like himself.
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