The Weeknd's After Hours: What You Need To Know
It has been four years since Canadian star Abel Tesfaye last delivered a full-length album but the man better known as The Weeknd returns in fine form this week with his fourth studio album After Hours. It arrives in stores today, here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
2018 did see The Weeknd delivering a seven-track EP – his first, as a matter of fact – but it felt like a bit of a detour from the slick pop of Starboy and showed a darker edge to his music.
Last time out the inimitable Daft Punk contributed two songs to Starboy's tracklist, and although the robots are sadly nowhere to be seen this time around, Tesfaye has had plenty of talented helpers on board to craft its follow-up.
Who's producing it?
The Weeknd is co-producing alongside a long list of others, including Swedish hit-making heavyweight Max Martin, who contributes to several tracks on the new album. Oscar Holter and Illangelo are the other big contributors in terms of production, but there is also input from a few other names such as Ricky Reed, Metro Boomin, Frank Dukes, Dre Moon and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, to name a handful.
Any special guests?
Not in terms of performers, no, although Parker’s presence can be certainly be felt on interlude ‘Repeat After Me’.
What does it sound like?
You get the sense in places with After Hours that, had Tesfaye not gotten some of the darker, more brooding urges out of his system on My Dear Melancholy, this could have been much denser and heavy kind of a record than it is.
There are certainly elements of that in places, especially on icy opener 'Alone Again' and the deliberately provocative ‘Heartless’, but by contrast ‘Blinding Lights’ is a slice of slick, sparkling pop that’s dripping with 80s inspired synths, an undoubted standout that’s every bit the equal to any of the hits featured on Starboy.
'Save Your Tears' and the title track are two more great examples of the new album's more upbeat moments, but there's plenty of scope elsewhere too, from the powerful slow-jam balladry of 'Snowchild' to the skittish drum 'n' bass rhythms on 'Hardest To Love'.
Does it deliver?
There are few artists in the pop sphere delivering such highly polished results with such consistency these days, and while not every track on After Hours reaches the pinnacle of what he's capable of, when he's on point – such as on the infectious 'Blinding Lights' – he's streets ahead of his peers. Not everyone will appreciate some of the lyrical button-pushing going on in tracks like 'Heartless', but on a musical level, this is a worthy successor to Starboy and one his fans will no doubt love.