The Weeknd is an artist who seems to be in the spotlight more for his highly publicized breakups rather than his music. Over the last three years, he’s gone from dating Selena Gomez, which led to beef with her ex-boyfriend, Justin Beiber, to having an on-and-off again relationship with Bella Hadid. However, these breakups have also been the inspiration for The Weeknd’s latest releases: My Dear Melancholy and, his latest project, After Hours. With the former hitting #1 on the Billboard charts and the latter on it’s way to score the biggest debut for a project so far this year, one question still remains: Is It Good?
After hours can best be described as the soundtrack to a cinematic masterpiece about a man’s search for healing. He reflects on a past relationship, admits his mistakes, writes apologies to his former lover that she will never hear, until, spoiler alert, he dies from being unable to bear the mental stress the relationship has caused him. What makes this concept work so well, aside from The Weeknd’s harmonizing vocals and catchy lyrics, is the production.
While the project does a good job of offering a wide variety of beats, it does so while managing to be faithful to the theme of heartbreak and loss that surrounds the album. The Weeknd works with some of the best producers of our generation, such as Metro Boomin, Kevin Parker, and, perhaps one of the most prolific pop produces of all time, Max Martin. From hypnotizing pop-trap hybrids (Heartless, Snowchild), to electronica-inspired instrumentals (Blinding Lights, Hardest To Love), and even synth-pop mixes (Alone Again, Scared To Love), it’s obvious that all parties involved put their best efforts into this project.
Despite having a completely different sound from the rest of his other projects, The Weeknd reminds us that this is still the sixth chapter in his discography. One of the tracks where this is most apparent falls on Snowchild, the album’s most personal track where The Weeknd reflects about his life before fame where he self-medicated and self-harmed to cope with his mental trauma. In “The Morning” off of House of Balloons and “Tell Your Friends” off of Beauty Behind the Madness, he mentions how California is the end goal and the main reason why he is pursuing the lifestyle he dreams of. But when he finally achieves the celebrity lifestyle he so desperately craved, he realizes that it still hasn’t solved his problems, and in some cases, it has even caused more (“Superstar neighbor in my business/Paparazzi tryna catch me slippin’ and/Going on tour is my vacation/Every month another accusation). Although California was the original mission, he wants to return to his old lifestyle, and concludes the three-song saga by stating “Cali was the mission, but now a nigga leavin’.”
So, Is It Good? The answer is yes. In fact, After Hours is a musical masterpiece. The production is top-notch, the tracks are memorable, and The Weeknd delivers lines with such a unique sense of passion and rawness that simply is not available in most artists. If you find yourself bored during quarantine (which is inevitable) and you’re on the lookout for new music, then After Hours is a perfect choice.
Standout Tracks: Alone Again, Hardest To Love, Snowchild, Heartless, Blinding Lights, Save Your Tears, After Hours.