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A very real and authentic pain. The Weeknd’s usual cocktail of self-loathing and sexual promiscuity makes another appearance, but the new album After Hours, released March 20, provides an insight into a more remorseful and emotionally available side to the thirty-year old artist from Toronto.

The new project After Hours, is a remarkably well put together album and does not fail to disappoint. With a not so subtle nod to the synth driven songs of the 1980’s the Weeknd offers a seemingly effortless melodic adventure.  

After establishing himself as an artist almost out of nowhere nearly ten years ago, Abel Tesfaye created an image and persona that seemed impossible to break away from. The usual themes of self-hate, drug abuse and sexual debauchery seemed permanently encapsulated by the Weeknd. After Hours is the most recent attempt by the artist to break away slightly from such a niche image, and it doesn’t fail to disappoint. 

I used to pray when I was sixteen,

If I didn’t make it, then I’d probably make my wrists bleed,

The Weeknd “Snowchild”

The first few tracks on the album nod to a more repentful side to the artist, they provide a key insight and understanding to the universal emotion of regret of which we all face at some point in our lives. Abel’s vocal delivery is at its best, providing an evocative and meaningful tonality to accompany such beautifully structured songs.

The production elements that can be drawn from this album are also a very interesting facet to the project and worth listening out for. The juxtaposition of post-modern minimalistic soundscapes and screaming 80’s synthesizers is truly something to behold.

The soundscapes are interesting but appear to come across a little directionless for me at times. Some of the long drone-like interludes among the tracks made me feel a little bored but all in all the new album is an ambitious and cohesive project. 

The quality that  appears to outshine almost everything else in the entire project is the narrative that Abel uses throughout the album. The songs truly appear as stories and are extraordinarily immersive at their best.

After Hours is a chronicle of longing and regret but above all, a very real and authentic pain.