The Weeknd - After Hours
Mar 20, 2020 (updated Mar 20, 2020)
Water is wet, but these Weeknd reviews are wetter.

Abel's latest full-length LP is a fan-pleasing project that finds him embarking on a new synthpop/synthwave aesthetic. It's not a prompt return to his darker, melancholic alternative r&b roots as most fans would have you believe, but following a streak of average releases, After Hours is perhaps The Weeknd's most satisfying studio effort musically. It's loaded with lush, pristine production that serves as a nice cushion on top of Abel's vocals. Even Abel's songwriting has a moment to shine in the latter half of the record, particularly on "After Hours" and "In Your Eyes". While albums like BBTM and Starboy saw Abel pushing forward a much more contemporary, accessible sound due to his sudden mainstream breakthrough, After Hours is a bit more densely introspective and emotionally volatile, which is a relief to hear.

But there's definitely something that significantly eats away and tears this album apart, especially in the first half. The Weeknd's always suffered from long term inconsistencies. Sometimes, the contrast in single quality and album quality is very much night and day, leaving a lot to be desired. After Hours unfortunately falls under that same boat, but whereas Starboy and BBTM suffered greatly from uninspired performances and filler, After Hours seems far too restrained in ambition and unfocused in execution to truly sell its concept. Abel's vocals, while comforting and generally exceptional in performance, is monotonous in style. It's the same vocals from one song to another you've come to expect cause you've heard the same thing for over half a decade. Some songs are far too cleaned up, a trait that doesn't fit well with The Weeknd's hedonistic, sexual character. "Hardest to Love" is a prime example of that. Look at that cover art and don't tell me this song doesn't seem out of place. Similar songs like "Escape From LA" and "Alone Again" are pretty much musically and topically a dud, even with some otherwise smooth production. Some have praised After Hours for its immaculate flow, but with all the inconsistencies in mind, I simply don't hear it.

When The Weeknd is at his most focused and concise, he delivers some of his most refreshing, exciting, stunning, instantly gratifying songs to date (i.e. the second half, tracks 7 to 13). When he's not, the results are far more insipid. After Hours is a pleasing listen with great moments and no terrible songs, but it's clear to me this is not The Weeknd at his best, at least not yet. I'd like to think with After Hours, we're only getting the bone and hardly the meat. It's certainly quite a tasty bone, I'll give it that, but an average pair of short ribs will always be better to the stomach than a pair of exceptionally tasty empty bones.

On another note: Heartless is a banger!

FAV TRACKS: After Hours, Faith, Blinding Lights, In Your Eyes, Save Your Tears, Heartless

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Escape From LA, Hardest To Love
Inglume's Tags
Mar 20, 2020
That's exactly what pisses me off about The Weeknd sometimes. His ambition is a lot more vacant than it was years ago, his backbone is too often his voice and atmosphere, and it makes shit predictable... saddens me because he really could be greater than he is.

Or maybe I'm missing something.
Mar 20, 2020
@KIDWITHGUNs Nah, your statement is very reasonable. That's exactly how I feel and what ultimately prevents people like me from enjoying a Weeknd record in full.
Mar 21, 2020
water isnt wet
Mar 22, 2020
water is, in fact, NOT wet
Mar 23, 2020
Totally agree on the second half being amazing while the first half doesn't really compare at all. Good review.
Mar 23, 2020
I would personally rate it higher because of the second half. I wish he would go back to Trilogy format EPs - the second half of After Hours would be a blazin' hot EP release!
Mar 23, 2020
Trilogy was mixtapes though, not EPs. The only EP he has is My Dear Melancholy.
Mar 24, 2020
Water is not wet, because water makes things wet. you also don't touch water and it's wet.
Mar 24, 2020
oooweee you are right sir
Mar 24, 2020
Water is very wet. To say it isn't would imply that it is dry, which is incorrect.
Mar 25, 2020
@CLJesse i dont really think its an A or B situation, its more like a slider maybe. and also what would you say about something that is sticky? is it dry? wet? its neither but you cant just say its sticky either because i dont think that fits the same category.
May 11, 2020
Oh no what have I done. Honey, the kids are arguing again!
May 11, 2020
@Inglume Sorry man but saying water is wet is a straight up L proof
Jun 11, 2020
I think this album has his most ranged vocal performances the differences between his delivery on a song like heartless vs live again are a big plus to this album
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