R&B | Pop | Electronic
Fans have been waiting 4 years for this album to arrive, and I myself, have felt just as apprehensive. After Hours is the first full-length studio album from R&B extraordinaire Abel Makkonen Tesfaye (also known as The Weeknd) since his critically praised 2016 project Starboy.
At the time where Starboy was released, I was still enjoying quite a few albums, but not really taking the time to really delve into them and listen to them critically. Starboy was indeed one of those albums.
In fact, the earliest example of a Weeknd project that reviewed was his 2018 EP My Dear Melancholy, which I praised as quite the solid musical project. It addressed themes of post-breakup, relationship struggles, and mental illness. This is something that After Hours can also relate to. The tracks on this album (especially the title track) revolve around a failed relationship. And Abel crafts lyrics to apologise for past transgressions, whilst adopting a villainous facade for the album’s visual promotional material.
I was incredibly impressed with all three of After Hours’ teaser tracks; “Heartless”, “Blinding Lights”, and the aforementioned title track for displaying a lot of progression, both musically and with the songwriting. I even enjoyed “Blinding Lights” enough to be my 20th favourite song of 2019.
And there were certainly more great tracks to follow. I found the first segment of this album to be incredibly strong, with “Alone Again” being a very effective intro that masterfully laid out the foundations of this albums mood. This great intro is followed only by even more incredible tracks, such as the gorgeously warm and summery “Too Late” as well as the dramatic soft ballad “Scared To Live” which I had actually been anticipating since an early live performance of said single.
If you thought that Starboy had a marvellously cosmic aesthetic, then After Hours is that and more. It definitely seems like The Weeknd has developed this theme tremendously, and this album may just be a sign that he has already mastered it fully.
But despite wowing me so much in the early leg, there were still a few tracks that missed the mark by quite a long shot; namely the bland “Snowchild”, the overly and uncomfortably descriptive lyrics of “Escape From LA”, and possibly the worst offender, “Save Your Tears”. I couldn't listen to this track without instantly thinking of Post Malones “Circles”, and quite frankly, I really don’t feel that this kind of atmosphere fits with Abel’s vocal set.
Nevertheless, these are realistically the only songs I could honestly pick on. The rest of them fit well with both the musical theme and the narrative of the project, as well as transitioning very well between one-another and simply being downright fun to listen to. The furtherance of the cosmic atmosphere is something that I’m a real sucker for.
Keep in mind that this is coming from somebody who could learn a thing or two more about The Weeknd’s previous works, but I still believe that After Hours may be his most polished album to date.
Favourite Tracks: Too Late | Heartless | Blinding Lights | In Your Eyes
Least Favourite Track: Save Your Tears
The Weeknd XO | Republic Records | UMG Recordings