The Weeknd - After Hours
Mar 20, 2020
84
As someone who used to keep tabs on Abel while he was rising out of his infamous Trilogy set (better known separately as House of Balloons, Thursday, Echoes of Silence) it’s definitely had its perplexing twists and turns leading all the way up to After Hours. The last time i recall at least coming close to liking a project by Abel was 7 years ago with his major-label debut Kiss Land. Mind you I use the word “liking” loosely. When following up with another “trilogy” if you will (Beauty Behind the Madness, then Starboy a year later, and so on with My Dear Melancholy), that “trilogy” mostly consisted of shooting for mainstream appeal, growing to be his biggest, but also albums to which I considered his worst.

With 2019 then making its way out, the roll-out for After Hours then began with Abel releasing the lead singles of the album Heartless & Blinding Lights. Both were songs that at first I wasn’t huge on in their first listens, but then came around to loving & playing them frequently. When the album was officially announced with its title track, I couldn’t help but to feel actual excitement afterwards, and that says a lot with the fact that I haven’t felt this pumped over an album by Abel in quite some time.

Writing this while it’s still fresh, the biggest thing that stands out on this album without question is the production, which leads to no surprise knowing that the majority of this album is produced by the likes of Illangelo, Max Martin, Oscar Holter, Metro Boomin, and not to forget Daniel Lopatin (also known as Oneohtrix Point Never, who scored the films Good Time & Uncut Gems). With this team of producers coming together to develop such an intriguing form of synth-pop, it really had me mesmerized, or enchanted even to picture Abel fitting in to most of these beats like a glove. If there was a version to this album that was just the instrumentals, this could undoubtedly be a soundtrack score for The Safdie Brothers.

As for Abel on this album, as I said, while he fits pretty snug and into place for the most part, there are certain moments that do throw you off of loop to where he doesn’t, whether it's a bad line from a verse or the drums sound way too excited compared to how he carries himself on a track. Some of the production on here doesn’t really suit Abel as well as others, as I think the biggest problems I find on here specifically relating towards it come from the tracks Hardest to Love, In Your Eyes, and Save Your Tears. Another note to mention on this album is how much I love that it feels like Abel is telling a story throughout its run time, with the album not only containing pretty smooth transitions, but also feel as if everything blends in & connects together like it's a film, though my issue with that as well is even on a different song, it could also sound just as similar to others.

Based off of my first few listens, I find After Hours to be both Abel in high & low points. But even with its lows, the highs are pretty high, especially given that this has to be the best I’ve heard Abel sonically in a while, and it actually has me interested to see if i’ll come back to this, hoping that it could potentially grow overtime.
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