By Melody Castro
The Weeknd, a Grammy award-winning artist, has released his new album After Hours this year, so here’s my take on it.
The album features fourteen tracks and three bonus tracks. I’ll only be talking about the main fourteen because, well, things get hectic.
The first track, “Alone Again,” includes a lot of synth sounds that overlap with his vocals, creating a euphoric atmosphere. It was a good intro; it set up the soundscapes and the theme of the album altogether.
The lyrics of the next four tracks start to tell a story. He is asking forgiveness for all the terrible things he’s done to his significant other. “Too Late” features a lot of vocal effects but again, they complement his vocals nicely. “Hardest To Love” continues his apologetic tone and adds feelings of being very blessed that he was given another chance. Production-wise, he used a lot of drum beats. An odd choice I must say, but his vocals made up for it. In “Scared To Live,” he is hoping his lover can heal from all of the things he’s done.
I found a lot of clever wordplay in “Snowchild.” The singer reminisces about life before fame–not something I’d typically expect from The Weeknd, but, hey, pretty cool. The music overall is stripped back since it’s more lyrically focused.
Two favorites of mine are “Escape From LA” and “Heartless.” In the former, it turns out, his lover isn’t exactly a good person and cheated on him. He starts to get bitter and blames Los Angeles for everything going wrong, hence the song title. As a resolution for his partner’s infidelity, he cheats back. In “Heartless,” he goes through a drastic change. He goes from being so blessed and apologetic to giving up on women in general. The beat in this song reflects the shift in tone as it goes the hardest compared to the others.
Boy, oh boy, do things escalate in “Faith.” He talks about drugs and ends up having an overdose. This sounds like a movie; but there are actually siren effects in the song to provide more imagery. So not only is he being self-destructive but he wants to pull his lover down with him. Crazy stuff, huh?
The next song, “Blinding Lights,” became a quick favorite for everyone and made the top of the charts for a while. It features an ‘80s beat and reconnection with his lover. It’s not even about the music anymore; the music is just there to provide you the story. He and his lover reunite, and he’s at an all-time high in this song.
More of my favorites are found on tracks 12 and 13. In “Repeat After Me (Interlude),” uh, yikes, he’s literally brainwashing her, telling her to repeat after him, that she loves and needs only HIM. It is very toxic behavior, but it’s oddly calming and the music is very soft. In “After Hours,” he talks about needing his lover, not being able to live without her, and stuff like that. He then faces reality and realizes that she’s not there with him and is extremely hurt, saying things like, “Where are you now when I need you most?” Towards the end of this song, he apologizes again and talks about never breaking her heart again.
The last song on the album, “Until I Bleed Out,” features a much more slowed and serene beat. Here, he talks about not being able to push further for this relationship and is slowly wanting to give up on everything. Despite this, he still needs his lover and would rather die than continue living with this feeling of regret and guilt.
After Hours is a whole loop. It ends with him considering suicide and starts with him being alone again, meaning that this relationship cycles through this time and time again. It’s genius.
This album will forever be one of my favorites, and with the cool beats and beautiful vocals, I think it’ll be one of yours too.