Artist: The Weeknd
Label: Republic Records
It has been little over a week since we were gifted with The Weeknd’s latest LP Starboy, released not long after several teaser songs (False Alarm, I Feel It Coming) and lead single Starboy – brought to us by Daft Punk. The Weeknd’s latest effort builds on the successes of Beauty Behind The Madness: The mood, the persona (minus a new haircut) and the funk/MJ influences that were found on singles Can’t Feel My Face and In The Night. Whilst The Weeknd continues to expand his repertoire through collaboration with Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar, Starboy shows a tendency of sticking with musicians that proved beneficial in the past such as Don McKinney, Max Martin & Co, Cashmere Cat and Lana Del Rey who serves as a co-write on Party Monster as well as offering backing vocals for Party Monster, False Alarm and Stargirl (Interlude) – adding a greatly appreciated mystifying texture between more R&B/Pop-style produced tracks, such as Rockin’ and A Lonely Night.
Not unlike his previous work The Weeknd doesn’t expand lyrically beyond the dilemmas of sleeping around, chasing money and attempting to find meaning in the meaningless. Although change may sometimes be necessary to show an artists growth, in the case of The Weeknd, this isn’t necessary and playing safe further establishes his persona and allows his sound to sit at the forefront of his development. However it is tracks that return to darker production textures that are Starboy standouts and the trap-influenced production on tracks such as Six Feet Under and Nothing Without You provide a much needed rest from the more pop-oriented songs, a direction The Weeknd appears to stray too much towards throughout Starboy.
It is this shift towards a more pop sound on the majority of the album that makes Starboy have less meaning and fall flat. Where Beauty Behind The Madness found a happy medium between The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons and mainstream pop, Starboy fails, instead coming across less defined and it is thanks to tracks with a quintessential XO sound design that enable the album to flourish and not be completely relegated into the ‘sell out’ category.
Top tracks: Party Monster, Six Feet Under, All I Know