The Weeknd is back. After a couple days of letting “After Hours” sit there on Apple Music I gave it a listen – thanks to the couple of people who asked me if I listened to it. Here’s how I listened and what I thought.
How I Listened
Any time I listen to a new album for the first time it has to be straight through, front-to-back. And for ‘After Hours’, I made the effort to deep listen to the album after seeing this LA Times article. Essentially: sit there, do nothing except listen to the album in its entirety. So that’s what I did.
To listen, I waited until I got home from work, which was around midnight. I turned the lights off and laid in my bed, eyes closed. It worked pretty well for this album because of its dark, moody nature. I would encourage you to take the same deep listening approach of ‘do nothing, just listen’ the next time you listen to a new album.
It’s actually really good to hear Abel’s voice. His last release in 2018 feels really far away, so it’s glad to have him back.
Man, this album feels just perfect for right now: quarantine, all alone vibes, and it feels like it could be the soundtrack for a Batman movie.
Abel knows his strength and sticks to it: he’s gonna sing, he’s gonna talk about relationships and his vices and he’s gonna do a great job doing it.
The singles: ‘Heartless’ and ‘Blinding Lights’ (now both certified platinum) fit really well with the rest of the track list.
I liked the head bobbing moments for pacing of the album.
This is an enjoyable listen. I’ve been listening to it consistently this week after my first listen.
I really liked how the album opened up. ‘Alone Again’ set the stage for an hour-long trip of pure Weeknd. It was refreshing; sometimes you don’t always get a good intro track.
I felt like on ‘Hardest To Love’ we actually hear him sing for the first time. The vocals are stripped down which really brings the emotion across.
A song like ‘Snowchild’ started off so promising. The beat made you feel like this was going to be a banger. And maybe my brother telling me he liked this one made me have high expectations, too! I’ve warmed up to this one the last couple of days. I ended up liking the rhyme scheme which brings me to another thought: the Weeknd knows what he’s doing with sharp, simple lyrics.
Like these from Snowchild: “Walking in the snow before I ever made my wrist freeze”; “Stack a couple M’s like I’m Shady”; “Got me moving dirty like I’m Swayze, All my diamonds dancing like I’m Swayze” – and from Scared To Live: “If I held you back, at least I held you close.”
‘Faith’ This was an eye-opener, a ‘sheesh!’ moment for me. I feel like he didn’t explicitly talk about drugs that much up to this point – maybe I wasn’t listening close enough. But lyrics like “But if I OD, I want you to OD right beside me” – that got my attention. So did the lyrics “I lost my religion, I’m losing my faith everyday.”
‘Blinding Lights’ brings us back to an up-tempo feel. I love the open of the track, I get the Batman vibes there, and I really like the 80s vibe. This has become one of my favorite songs on the album.
‘In Your Eyes’ keeps that 80s vibe going. This one is a bop.
The interlude ‘Repeat After Me’ comes at a good time: near the end, almost making making the listener refocus. It sounds really nice – according to Genius it’s produced by Kevin Parker. Makes sense.
‘Until I Bleed Out’ is a great final effort for the album. It puts the finishing touches on the album and the imagery in ‘I wanna cut you outta my dreams ’til I’m bleeding out’ is really something. And it’s kind of gross. About that…
I didn’t use the album art for this blog because it’s gross! It’s off-putting, and that might be part of why it is the album art but, man it’s hard to look at.
And if you happen to catch the ‘In Your Eyes’ video: that’s creepy and kind of gross too. I didn’t watch the full thing, I saw the Youtube comments.
In the end
This is an enjoyable album. It’s nice to hear from The Weeknd again with some more music that – calling on broken relationships and escapism – most people can relate to.
If you got this far, let me know what you thought of ‘After Hours’ here on the blog or social media! Thank you!