Nipping at the heels of their first release, The Weeknd (the ambiguous nom de is-it-a-band-or-just-one-person of 21 year-old Canadian R&B singer Abel Tesfay) has released their second mixtape: Thursday. For fans of the first album, this release is a fine extension of the spinning, spacious, drugged-out landscapery you fell in love with.
While The Weeknd pushes the boundaries of R&B into unrecognizable territories, there is still plenty here that classic R&B lovers can bite into. The mixtape’s title track sounds like an old-school slow jam on opiates. I actually paused the track midway to pull up 1999 between-the-sheets Silk ballad “Meeting In My Bedroom” to compare (and have no regrets).
The tape unveils many homages to R&B classics, at least to my mind. But I know I can’t be the only one to hear the end of “Lonely Star” – as the vocals count through the days of the week (careful to skip over Thursday, of course) – and think of 1985’s Cherrelle/Alexander O’Neal hit “Saturday Love.” “The Zone” could have been a B-side on the newest Sade album, save for the prominent Drake cameo (his first and only on the album). It’s easy to get lost in the production of this album – a major strength of all of The Weeknd’s work thus far – but I still can’t help searching for those palpable, basic influences. Others have been pushing the sound of R&B for a minute (including fellow Torontonian Drake, whose support of The Weeknd has undoubtedly kicked the newcomer’s career up a few rungs); Tesfay carves out his niche in emotion and borderline-horror subjects and textures. At the end of “The Birds Part One,” when all is stripped down to vocals and guitar, you can feel the warmth and hear the bare bones of what has been built upon – and it does not fail to impress.
The Weeknd is scheduled to release a third mixtape, Echoes Of Silence, this fall.
The Weeknd – The Birds Part One
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