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Review: The Weeknd - Thursday

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4/5

‘Thursday’ is the second in a series of three mixtapes planned for release by The Weeknd; the first, ‘House of Balloons’ was released earlier this year and has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2011 Polaris Prize for Canadian music. Both are available to download for free on the artist’s website www.the-weeknd.com .

So that’s the easy stuff out of the way. When it comes to actually describing The Weeknd I’m a bit lost – this is R’n’B, but a lot of the time this seems to have more in common with the stripped down electronic beats of Burial or James Blake than most current R’n’B artists. In parts it sounds like Kanye West’s brief flirtation with emotion on 2008’s ‘808s and Heartbreaks’. The layered vocals wouldn’t be out of place on a Bon Iver album. There are dub beats in ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ and even a rousing rock chorus in ‘Life of the Party’. And the combined effect is, honestly, like nothing else out there at the moment. 

So what is the effect? It’s like having sex, or like a post-party comedown or like having your heart broken – all things that Abel Tesfaye, the man behind all of this, describes in the way only a 21-year-old can. The mood is dark and the lyrics – graphic as they are – aren’t really needed to get across this guy’s point. The music has the same late-night-drug-haze feeling as Burial or Blake, with similar sample-heavy distorted production, but there’s a lot more going on here - in terms of intricacy and experimentation and sheer range of influences, ‘Thursday’ is both a more interesting take on the sound, with Tesfaye’s faultless falsetto fitting perfectly on top of tripped-out beats, and a definite stylistic step-up from its own predecessor.

March’s ‘House of Balloons’ took the blogosphere by storm, and when ‘Thursday’ was released last week the artist’s website crashed with the number of people rushing to download it. With a ringing endorsement from fellow Torontonian Drake, who appears on the track ‘The Zone’, The Weeknd shows no sign of finishing on ‘Thursday’. A third release is planned this autumn and it’s safe to say that a lot of people are waiting for The Weeknd (’s next move).




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