Album: Kiss Land
Record Label: The Weeknd XO
A lack of new innovations means The Weeknd come off more dour than dark this time
Up until now, The Weeknd's cult success has grown to a point where they're almost at household name status amongst teenagers. Abel Tesfaye's over- debauched, low- life lyricism and tales of depraved heartbreak have tugged at the heart strings of many an indie persona, spurred on by the dark, cavernous production that forms most of his songs backbone. Maybe the fact that so far this formula hasn't encountered many deliberators has lead to Tesfaye seeing no real need or desire for change on "Kiss Land." But actually, variation is exactly what this album requires.
There are moments on "Kiss Land" where both the production and lyrics are memorable enough to strike home hard. The opener "Professional" sees Tesfaye expose the ordeal of losing a lover to the world of fame and success whilst entwining the emotional substance with a cynical glance at the industry over vast washes of hazy, floating synth. "So you're somebody now, but what's a somebody in a nobody town?" he asks of his songs' protagonist. "Love in the Sky" is the shortest moment here but sees Tesfayes falsetto fracture delicately as he indulges in his usual poetic depravity over warm, twangy guitar noodling and cavernous backing vocals.
However, it's not long before Tesfaye's conventional stance of weepy, lovelorn and drug- smothered self- flagellation starts to drag. The poor lyricism on "The Town" is cliched, and is combined with a Tesfaye who doesn't sound particularly moved by the whole ordeal. "Belong to the World", despite its pugilistic, noisy opening soon descends into another bout of falsetto whining. "Live For", featuring The Weeknd's biggest advocate of all, Drake, is fueled by debauchery and possesses a nagging hook that proclaims "This is the shit that I live for... This is the shit that I die for." "Wanderlust" essentially sees Tesfaye glorifying a one night stand and despite it's hefty, dance- friendly beat it barely manages to surpass boring.
"Kiss Land" sees the group's schtick finally starting to wear thin, but it's not as if they don't have the innovation to propel themselves down a new trajectory. Their formula of experimental r'n'b still works, and that's what keeps them grappling on to it, but by the sounds of this record, it won't (and shouldn't) be that way for much longer.
Key tracks: Professional, Love in the Sky
For fans of: Drake, AlunaGeorge