Updated: Feb 12, 2021
Huge, megastar of the music world The Weeknd is back with his new album titled 'After Hours'. This is Abel's 4th studio album following 2016's 'Starboy' and it's fair to say people were hyped. So without further adieu let's get into this review. The first thing which stands out on this project is the production - which overall is immaculate. The production on this album is very synth based with deep, dark sounding grimy bass but at times a more light, 80's retro style. All of the beats on this thing are good, and at times are the main attraction of a song. The Weeknd has a lot of reoccurring themes on this project such as loneliness, heart ache, drug dependency and the negative side of fame. He manages to get this content across with such emotion in his vocals which are on point for the most part of this album. There are some points though in which Abel's voice is higher pitched than it needs to be and it just kind of went straight through me. Abel likes to use metaphors to express himself and he does this with complex lyrics for the most part - but even when the lyrics are basic it just feels very real, relatable and is very effective. It's definitely an album you can put on when you're going through shit thanks to how Abel presents himself.
Into the track-list we go, starting with 'Alone Again' which is a nice start to this album. Abel focuses on his life problems and drug abuse over swirly, moving synths and an incredible deep bass. His vocals are alright - but during the first verse they don't need to be as high pitched as they are (reoccurring theme because I don't enjoy really high pitched vocals) - however it does suit it for the hook. Past the first verse the song picks up and it's a great song. 'Too Late' is great (XO sign me up) due to it's easy verses to navigate through, really catchy hook and light synths that twinkle over the drums - creating a great track. The next song 'Hardest To Love' is probably my favourite on the track-list - it really hits me on an emotional level as The Weeknd admits he's been the harder to love in the relationship as he reminisces on his issues in a past relationship. The lyrics are an example of simple but effective - after a few tracks littered with complex lyrics and metaphors. The production is also really good - especially the quick paced drum pattern and it's an amazing track. 'Scared To Live' has great production again with the slow bouncing drums and organ sound that's created - producing an emotional atmosphere as Abel speaks on a breakup leaving his ex doubting that she could love again. It's another great track. 'Snowchild' is a bit of a drop off in quality - but still an alright song never the less. The light, sad synths and deep bass again is great - Abel also uses a lot of entendres and sings a hook that serves its purpose - but the verses just go on for too long and compared to the other songs it's just not as good. 'Escape From LA' has dark production creating a murky atmosphere - but it's not as good as the other beats. Lyrically it's basic, and the sing is still decent but a bit more bland compared to the others as Abel looks for meaning in his relationship. It's not helped by the fact it's 6 minutes long.
Next in the track listing is the single 'Heartless'. The beat is quicker and more upbeat than previous tracks - Metro as usual does a great job with the production. The hook is catchy again - despite the fact maybe it doesn't need to be the pitch it is but it passes. Abel simply just flexes at a girl by using some slick punchlines and metaphors. Another great track is 'Faith' where Abel uses metaphors and complexity over lighter synths to give it a great effect. 'Blinding Lights' is one of the best songs to come out this year no cap. The hook is addictive to the put you just want to sing it out loud. The lights that blind Abel are a metaphor for fame, and the only relief Abel can find is with a lover. The beat on this thing is an amazing, 80's style disco instrumental with heavy synths. Another great track with a retro, 80's style with a bouncy beat is 'In Your Eyes' - and it reinforces the theme perfectly. The following track 'Save Your Tears' tells the story of The Weeknd seeing an ex (presumably Bella Hadid) at a club - and he uses emotive language to create yet another amazing song about longing and loneliness. The production as usual is amazing, with the 80's style beats reoccurring partnered by bouncy synths. An interlude titled 'Repeat After Me (Interlude)' follows that. The beat is great with the maneuvering synths creating a misty, dark atmosphere. Abel is asking a lover to repeat after him and say she don't love her new man. It's repetitive, as the song is a metaphor for Abel being a hypnotist. It's a nice addition to the track list.
One of the singles off this album and the title track 'After Hours' is next, and realistically it's a low point. It just kind of drags on, and there's no need for it to be over 6 minutes. His vocals are too high pitched at some points and the beat is the best part of the song. Despite all the complaining, I wouldn't describe it as a bad song though. 'Until I Bleed Out' is the finale to this album and the most underwhelming track. It talks on addiction to both love and drugs and how he wants done with both - it works as an outro but it's a boring song. The beat is still hard past the first part (which is bland) when the hard synth bass drops.
To conclude my first experience with a full project from The Weeknd - it was good. There's a few mid songs and a few tracks that went on for too long but there's some great tracks here and some amazing track runs of like 4 or 5 songs. This album was originally a 6/10 for me, but got better after every listen - it's really a grower.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Too Late, Hardest To Love, Scared To Live, Snowchild, Heartless, Blinding Lights, In Your Eyes, Save Your Tears, After Hours
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Repeat After Me (Interlude)
OVERALL RATING: Light 9.5/10
*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*