In the hijinks of the streets and alleyways of the beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada, it’s beauty can be heard from just miles away, and seen for even more of the arrays of light and boisterous sounds in the distance. But it’s not all of the beauty as it seems. There’s always madness behind the beauty of anything. “After Hours” tells the story of the horror that can be entailed in that area, it might not be directly correlated, but it’s the setting of the story.
The Weeknd is quite the polarizing artist and for my personal music tastes, he never seems to miss. I think it’s quite amazing to see such a great career to develop from seemingly nothing. Briefly being homeless and addicted to drugs, but then years later becoming one of the most successful artists in the last decade. It’s impressive, and honestly a role model to that you can be who you want to be with just effort.
With his music, it was always consistently good, but in recent years, it’s been on quite the downslope, starting from 2016’s “Starboy” and continuing on from his 2018 EP “My Dear Melancholy,”. Although they had great quality and I personally enjoyed them greatly, it seemed to be missing something that I truly enjoyed with his earlier mixtapes and albums. I wasn't expecting him to reinvent the wheel or anything, but with the great raw talent that the artist had, I did expect something to impress me. I waited for years for that project to come, and it seemed like there was a disconnect. I still had high hopes as I truly thought there was still so much more to have. Then, in late 2019, “Heartless” released, giving me so much hope into the new album. I think the song isn't absolutely amazing or anything but personally I loved the finesse and style to it. But then, “Blinding Lights” and “After Hours” blew me away. They completely reignited the interest I originally had, and I couldn’t wait for March 2020 for his album to finally release. These singles alone easily made me rethink everything, and I had very high hopes. And well, the album definitely did not disappoint, it actually blew my high expectations out of the water.
“After Hours” has a complete tracklist filled with quality induced songs of just pure bliss for me, as that I was feeling bliss throughout, because the mood of the album is on the contrary. From beginning to end, it’s quite the immersive experience. For Abel, the synthwave or 90’s/80’s esque music is quite unique to his own style, and to be frank, this is one of his best styles and easily feels like one of his most refined as well. Clearly there was a lot of thought put into the production, vocals and songwriting, which for the lyricism, he outlines his past stories of his life before it all, and even during the fame. It might not be his most deep lyricism yet, but it does the job well as that’s not what the album is trying to be. It’s telling a story but I feel the production is what is the most telling for me. In itself, it’s an immersive experience, detailed with synths, a metronome, and lovely vocals as always from Abel. Both the vocals and production meld together into that all out experience. It’s an album to space out in the darkness of your own room, alone, but blasting it through your headphones while your eyes are closed, but also an album that you can listen to at night driving through a clear but bright street. No specific setting, you can listen to it anywhere but have a different emotional experience each and every single time. It’s quite unsettling. Each track transitions into each other perfectly, the album has cohesion but it’s also varied at the same time. The production style itself doesn’t switch up too much, but the intensity does, and I think the sense of panic and safety used in this album was utilized greatly to keep the listener interested throughout with strong performances but also mellow for a more chill experience. It’s quite creative as you can take any specific song from here, and form your own opinion to when and where to listen to that song, as there are endless possibilities. The Weeknd obviously derives a lot of different artists, but the way the album was curated and delivered, it feels like it was his own creative approach, and he did it better than most, which I appreciate greatly as he took something great and made it greater.
“After Hours” is not only a great album that I call back onto very often as a highlight of the atrocious year of 2020, but an unmatched experience in its own self, making me feel things some other albums seemingly can’t do for me. Nostalgia, love, hatred, and sadness, all at the same time throughout this short listening experience. Not only it brings up emotions, but it peaks your interest throughout every song with it’s own strong powerful moment at every waking moment. It’s memorable/strong production, calming/loving vocals, and deep lyricism, easily added up to being one of my favorite albums of 2020, that I felt was underappreciated in some regard from specific people. If there was a universal album of the year of 2020, this would be my top pick, as I understand the appeal. It’s amazing.
Thank you for reaching the end of my review. To end it off, I just wanted to finish it off with a few bits of info on what’s been going on. Currently, I’m contemplating a 1 month break to deal with a lot of different problems in my real life recently, and I’m not sure if I am taking a break yet. If I don’t write any reviews after this one, that’s the reason why. I’ll be checking my shoutbox twice a day if so. Anyways, if this is my last message for a while, goodbye, and I hope y’all the best. Cya.