Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Weeknd – Kiss Land (2013) – Review

Review: The Weeknd took the modern R&B world by storm in 2011, releasing three brilliant mixtapes (which he then remasted and released together as Trilogy). He was probably the music artist of the year. Thus, anticipation for his first commercial release has been incredibly high (and by the same token, expectations have been impossibly high as well).

Kiss Land is musically different that The Weeknd’s past work. Abel Tesfaye this time works primarily with fellow Canadians producers DannyBoyStyles and Jason “DaHeala” Quenneville, and L.A. producer Silkky Johnson stops by for the wonderful title track. However, it is clear that Tesfaye is the main creative force behind the album. In addition to writing all the tracks, he also produces or co-produces every song. The sound overall does harken back to his mixtapes, as it too feels like a night of partying that has gone on too long leading to the weariness of the come-down. Yet, like each of his releases, there is a distinct sonic quality to it. This album is dark, almost without an ounce of hopefulness. It has a beauty to it as well however.

Lyrically, Tesfaye is to some extent still focused on the same thematic material that populated his mixtapes. He seems to long for a meaningful relationship, but only finds (or gives into) the shallowness of what night life offers (alcohol, drugs, women, and so on). There is a real sadness to his music, which his voice accompanies to such an affecting result for the listener. Pop music about failed relationships and pain seems to resonate to a much stronger degree than happy songs, and here Tesfaye is able to create a fully developed narrative of crushed hopes and emotional suffering.

Tesfaye is also not afraid to primarily stand alone as the sole voice on his record (which is a nice change for what we typically see in modern R&B and Hip Hop). Frequent collaborator Drake is the only featured guest, and his verse is brief (and on maybe the weakest song on the album).

While Kiss Land is not The Weeknd’s best release, it is still a wonderfully engrossing, emotive, and dense work. 4/5

Essential Tracks:
1)      Kiss Land – Produced by Silkky Johnson
2)      Tears in the Rain – Produced by DannyBoyStyles, The Weeknd, and Jason “DaHeala” Quenneville
3)      Love In the Sky – Produced by DannyBoyStyles, The Weeknd, and Jason “DaHeala” Quenneville

Available on: Digital Downloand

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