Country : United States Label : Republic / XO Genres and styles : Hip Hop / Pop / Synth-Pop Year : 2020

After Hours

· by Félix Desjardins

Already at the top of the pop mountain, Toronto-based singer The Weeknd presents his fourth studio album After Hours, which has been eagerly awaited since the release of his last EP, My Dear Melancholy, in 2018. The 30-year-old hip hop artist, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, had announced this 14-track opus with the release of three singles last November. At the same time, he had explicitly warned his fans that he would produce a less luminous work than usual. Over this nearly one-hour recording, the Canadian combines dark themes such as break-ups, drug abuse, and death, with scores that oscillate between hip hop and synth-pop.

A collaboration with 13 different producers, After Hours will surely be at the top of the Billboard charts for several weeks. There’s no doubt that Makkonen Tesfaye has mastered the art of pop. Here he delivers an extremely polished project with no apparent flaws. In fact, this is perhaps the album’s greatest weakness. The Weeknd’s lyrics are almost exclusively first-degree, therefore quite one-dimensional, and hardly ever venture into unknown territory. Moreover, its synth-pop update is more akin to recycling, so an impression of déjà vu is maintained throughout After Hours

In spite of this, the holder of three Grammies shows a beautiful progression, thanks to a defined dramatic line and a style that refines itself from project to project. He openly presents his hedonistic vision of the world, notably on the disillusioned “Escape from L.A.” and “Heartless”, where he alludes to his hypermediated relationships with singer Selena Gomez and model Bella Hadid. 

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