The Weeknd’s newest album, Afterhours, introduces a new era
April 14, 2020
Since moving out of his childhood home at the age of seventeen, Abel Tesfaye, otherwise known as The Weeknd, has continued to reinvent himself and shake up the modern music world through alternative R&B.
Abel uploaded his fourth studio album, After Hours, on March 20th of this year. Two years after he last released music in 2018, EP “My Dear Melancholy”, and four years after the release of his 2016 studio album, Starboy.
The album’s era, however, began weeks before the project’s initial rollout. The Weeknd released three singles as well as two music videos and a short film leading up to the album’s midnight release.
These three singles and videos not only gave viewers a glimpse into the album’s themes and production, but also the story and phase that Abel has created surrounding the album.
The first two singles, “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless,” introduced us to a new character with an iconic red suit and battered face which has not only been seen in music videos, but also in live television performances.
In the first music video for “Heartless,” the character first lives up their time in Las Vegas partying, drinking, and abusing drugs. Then for the second music video for “Blinding Lights” the character escapes Vegas on a major high and is exposed to the potential horrors that also come along with nightlife.
The first two tracks also revealed the 80s pop inspired production with heavy synths that play a major role in the project. Appropriately, the light, pop, production represents the lyrics and is indicative of the influence that the use of drugs and their high had on this album.
The third single, (title track) “After Hours,” however, depicts a different side of the album. Instead of a high with bright, fun production, this single represents loneliness,depression, and the other side of nightlife.
The production of this single differs from the first two tracks. Though, there is still a heavy 80s influence, this track’s production is much darker to better convey the emotions that are represented in the lyrics.
The short film, also titled “After Hours,” differs entirely from the first two music videos. The short film follows the character alone walking through New York City, after a performance, in the middle of the night.
In his walk throughout the city, The Weeknd is overtaken with emotions that we have yet to see from the character before. Pain is expressed throughout the video which eventually will lead the character to brink of insanity.
After experiencing the high of nighttime from the first two videos, the short film and title track completes the dark and painful otherside of the overall theme of the album.
This theme can be depicted from the first three tracks, videos, as well as the album’s name itself. It is evident that the project “After Hours” is an ode to the nighttime and all of the emotions and potential that comes along with it.
As described by Abel himself, “You can find love, fear, friends, enemies, violence, dancing, sex, demons, angels, loneliness, and togetherness all in the After Hours of the night.”
When listening to this project, there were a few tracks that stood out to me as a listener. The first being “Scared To Live.” This song was performed on Saturday Night Live prior to the album’s initial release. When first hearing it I was captivated with the slow synth production and amazing vocal performance.
In this track there are elements of love and care in the darkness of the night. “Scared To Live” represents the virtue side of the night which makes up the light side of the album’s theme.
Another song that stood out to me while listening is “Faith.” The track’s dark and distorted production, lyricism involving overdosing and loneliness, and psychedelic outro creates the perfect song to represent the twisted nighttime and dark side of the album’s theme.
After listening to the project, from the midnight release until now, I have drawn similarities from this project to his former projects. The light production with dark themes and lyricism reminded me of his 2013 album, Kissland.
Also, After Hours shined light on his past relationships on the song “Save Your Tears.” This reminded me of his 2018 EP, “My Dear Melancholy,” where his love interests were the overall theme.
The release of this project will define The Weeknd’s place in the modern music world and will likely dominate the music charts. In my opinion it is the album of the year so far and Abel’s second best piece of work behind his mixtape, House of Balloons.
From a one to ten scale I would rate this project an eight of ten. Though it was consistent and also possessed amazing tracks, I believe that the album had the potential to be structured in a way that would have better depicted the story.
Nonetheless, I was delighted to experience this beautiful project and I recommend that high school students like myself and young adults especially make time to listen through this album.