There are a few things that we’ve become accustomed to when it comes to a release of a Weeknd album, and that is moody RNB beats intertwined with vulnerable confessions and a whole lot of sex references. And his fourth studio album ‘After Hours’ doesn’t shy away from delivering what he’s good at.
From start to finish, this record dives into a soundscape of brooding RNB beats and moody atmospheric production that keeps it at a cohesive sonical tone.
It’s a step backwards sonically towards his mixtape era, where he wasn’t trying to accommodate for the commercial realm. But he takes some synthesisers from his ‘Starboy’ era with him to give a fresh perspective.
‘Alone Again’ opens the record with a reflection on substance abuse and an overdose scare which forced him to pull himself together. The cinematic tone of the synthesisers keeps it at a moody introduction and sets up ‘Too Late’ to be an early standout.
‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘Heartless’ are the two clear singles from the record with new single ‘In Your Eyes’ following suit with it’s fresh synthesiser giving some slinky 80’s realness. The reflective track sees him empathising with the pain his lover feels in relation to their mental health.
“In your eyes, I know it hurts to smile but you try to” he introspectively reflects during the groovy hook. But what takes the song to a whole other level is the epic saxophone solo during the outro which feels a little left field for him.
‘Save Your Tears’ is another big shiny disco-pop moment that breaks up all the moody and dark RNB songs that cloud this release. While the athemic and soulful ‘Scared To Live’ interpolates Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ during the hook.
While these are the clear standouts on the record, the rest sort of just fades into the background. It’s very cinematic in it’s own way and is an album that is intended to be listened from start to finish, but some of the songs just need to be skipped as they are way too self indulgent.