The Weeknd – Starboy

The Weeknd - StarboyWhen The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, shattered the pop charts with Earned It from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, it marked the beginning of a string of hit singles and a huge album for the Scarborough, Ontario singer. Yet, he’s been playing the music scene for the better part of a decade with a trilogy of mixtapes, a bunch of collaborations and awesome remix work of songs like Gaga‘s Marry The Night and Florence‘s Shake It Off. Starboy is Abel’s third major-label record and as would be expected following a rise to popularity, he’s in defence mode, reassuring everyone who knew him before that popularity hasn’t changed him. As he states on Reminder, “Every time we try to forget who I am/I’ll be right there to remind you again/You know me.” On the title track and first single, he fully acknowledges and embraces his status as a VIP, but implies that it’s not as much his own doing as it is those who put him there, the fans: “Look what you’ve done,” but he maintains a healthy dose of hard drugs and sex throughout the record, which he retains wholeheartedly on Ordinary Life, singing “Father, sorry/Halos are given to ordinary lives/No, but this ain’t ordinary life.” Starboy isn’t vastly different for Abel but it expands on his brand of nocturnal R&B with throbbing baselines and thumbing rhythms – at least for most of the first half of the record. At 18 tracks (regular edition, no deluxe), it’s a lengthy album, which increases the likelihood that it will taper off at some point – and it does. Where the first half is moody, dark and heavy, the second half is smooth with safer-sounding tracks like Love To Lay and A Lonely Night, ending on the Michael Jackson-sounding Daft Punk collab I Feel It Coming, a second-half-highlight. A case could be made that Abel is playing it up for the masses at times but as a whole, this album isn’t the sound of someone begging for mainstream attention – he gets it because the mainstream needs him.

Four stars

1. Starboy [featuring Daft Punk]
2. Party Monster
3. False Alarm
4. Reminder
5. Rockin’
6. Secrets
7. True Colors
8. Stargirl Interlude [featuring Lana Del Ray]
9. Sidewalks [featuring Kendrick Lamar]
10. Six Feet Under
11. Love To Lay
12. A Lonely Night
13. Attention
14. Ordinary Life
15. Nothing Without You
16. All I Know [featuring Future]
17. Die For You
18. I Feel It Coming [featuring Daft Punk]

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