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After Hours: The Weeknd's Dark Journey

Article
Music
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON
2020-03-20
2021-06-19

The Weeknd is one of those few artists who achieve commercial success without sacrificing their artistry. With After Hours, he manages to engage the listener on a dark musical journey through deep feelings, disappointments, and plausible guilt-filled apologies and regrets.

…a fictional world where melancholy and heartbreak have their own soundtrack.

Accompanied by a fairly recognizable sound from 80s-inspired synthesizers, Abel — the artist’s birth name — introduces us to an aesthetic that uses elements from the past to transport us to a fictional world where melancholy and heartbreak have their own soundtrack. The story and concept of the album are set in Las Vegas: we can see The Weeknd bloody and wounded as he goes through a journey full of lust.

And it is the themes that this city represents — crime, drugs, sex — that are reiterative in the artist’s work, in addition to the feelings of loneliness and lovelessness that usually come later. From the start, his sound could be described as a somewhat dark R&B. Trilogy, a compilation of three mixtapes, is a great letter of introduction to an undoubtedly complex artist, whose influence on the music of this decade is obvious. Kiss Land goes a bit unnoticed compared to the album that really launched him into global stardom: Beauty Behind the Madness, the most listened album during 2015 — more than 60 million reproductions — and the one that led to becoming the first male artist to have three simultaneous top spots on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, as well as making him worthy of two Grammy’s.

With Starboy there is a small distancing from the melancholic character that we know from previous works into one that embraces his status as a pop star, while in My Dear Melancholy, he explores more introspective territories, a kind of combination between his first works and the most recent ones. In After Hours he returns to his beginnings: his sound is somewhat cinematic in the sense that it surrounds and tells the story of a person full of recurring questions. Enjoying it feels like going through a dark tunnel that seems endless with somewhat disturbing fluorescent lights around.

…he embraces that destructive lifestyle for which he often apologizes and boasts about everything that fame has earned him

It starts with Alone Again, where he wonders if he can withstand his dark feelings any longer. In Hardest To Love, he can’t believe he was loved or trusted despite everything, but it’s too late. However, in Heartless, he embraces that destructive lifestyle for which he often apologizes and boasts about everything that fame has earned him. Blinding Lights, the second single produced by Max Martin, who’s work you have certainly heard if you exist in contemporary society, he again confesses his vulnerability to fame and his need to love someone — in this case, his girlfriend Bella Hadid — in order not to be lost. His title track and third single is a final apology seeking reconciliation for mistakes he makes over and over again when returning to the “man he once was.”

In announcing the first single, Heartless, Abel described the album as the start of a “brain-melting psychotic chapter”, which would become the sixth chapter in his history. After Hours does not disappoint and, despite playing the same themes that The Weeknd usually plays, it does it in a refreshing way without neglecting the characteristic style of his music. The title perfectly describes how the music feels: the moment after-hours when bars, clubs, and casinos open their doors and invite their visitors to get lost at night.

After Hours is the fourth studio album by Canadian singer the Weeknd, released on March 20, 2020, by XO and Republic Records.

The Weeknd is one of those few artists who achieve commercial success without sacrificing their artistry. With After Hours, he manages to engage the listener on a dark musical journey through deep feelings, disappointments, and plausible guilt-filled apologies and regrets.

…a fictional world where melancholy and heartbreak have their own soundtrack.

Accompanied by a fairly recognizable sound from 80s-inspired synthesizers, Abel — the artist’s birth name — introduces us to an aesthetic that uses elements from the past to transport us to a fictional world where melancholy and heartbreak have their own soundtrack. The story and concept of the album are set in Las Vegas: we can see The Weeknd bloody and wounded as he goes through a journey full of lust.

And it is the themes that this city represents — crime, drugs, sex — that are reiterative in the artist’s work, in addition to the feelings of loneliness and lovelessness that usually come later. From the start, his sound could be described as a somewhat dark R&B. Trilogy, a compilation of three mixtapes, is a great letter of introduction to an undoubtedly complex artist, whose influence on the music of this decade is obvious. Kiss Land goes a bit unnoticed compared to the album that really launched him into global stardom: Beauty Behind the Madness, the most listened album during 2015 — more than 60 million reproductions — and the one that led to becoming the first male artist to have three simultaneous top spots on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, as well as making him worthy of two Grammy’s.

With Starboy there is a small distancing from the melancholic character that we know from previous works into one that embraces his status as a pop star, while in My Dear Melancholy, he explores more introspective territories, a kind of combination between his first works and the most recent ones. In After Hours he returns to his beginnings: his sound is somewhat cinematic in the sense that it surrounds and tells the story of a person full of recurring questions. Enjoying it feels like going through a dark tunnel that seems endless with somewhat disturbing fluorescent lights around.

…he embraces that destructive lifestyle for which he often apologizes and boasts about everything that fame has earned him

It starts with Alone Again, where he wonders if he can withstand his dark feelings any longer. In Hardest To Love, he can’t believe he was loved or trusted despite everything, but it’s too late. However, in Heartless, he embraces that destructive lifestyle for which he often apologizes and boasts about everything that fame has earned him. Blinding Lights, the second single produced by Max Martin, who’s work you have certainly heard if you exist in contemporary society, he again confesses his vulnerability to fame and his need to love someone — in this case, his girlfriend Bella Hadid — in order not to be lost. His title track and third single is a final apology seeking reconciliation for mistakes he makes over and over again when returning to the “man he once was.”

In announcing the first single, Heartless, Abel described the album as the start of a “brain-melting psychotic chapter”, which would become the sixth chapter in his history. After Hours does not disappoint and, despite playing the same themes that The Weeknd usually plays, it does it in a refreshing way without neglecting the characteristic style of his music. The title perfectly describes how the music feels: the moment after-hours when bars, clubs, and casinos open their doors and invite their visitors to get lost at night.

After Hours is the fourth studio album by Canadian singer the Weeknd, released on March 20, 2020, by XO and Republic Records.

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