It’s like you’re in a dingy stairwell and its grimy looking. Broken furniture litters the already clustered hallway, smoke stains paint awkward shapes on the wall. The light at the top of the stairs already feels so far away from you, it feels like you’re being carried on the beat of something, and its heavy. Every beat gives your soul little earthquakes and shakes your neatly placed senses off your mental shelves… Where is this beat coming from? It seems to be coming from the end of this hallway, the further you walk, the thicker the sound gets, but still you walk on. Finally you get to the door, push it open and fall into the odd darkness… and it’s nice.
That is exactly what The Weeknd makes me feel like. Every time I listen to his music, I feel myself falling into something I should fight against but don’t. It’s like a mental high that is detrimental but so damn good. I feel black and white, odd, senseless, laid back but aware all at the same time. And with this new album, my high has been given three new levels. Girls and boys, welcome to Trilogy.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any darker than House of Balloons or Thursday or Echoes of Silence, he hits you with all three in the one album. Trilogy is a remastered compilation of his three previous mixtapes, alongwith the addition of the odd new tracks. It is very hard to listen to Trilogy and not just pick your favourite mix tape and stick to it. Personally, anything that comes out of Abel Tesfaye’s mouth will rock my mental boat no doubt, but there’s just something about House of Balloons that always has me at a standstill and trance like. I don’t know what it is, but the minute “Wicked Games” comes on, you just can not find me anymore, I have jumped outside the window of reality and I am just GONE! It’s like sticky black poison that I love to play with, completely toxic but in a good out of body experience sorta of way. What can I say, he makes pain so enjoyable and satisfying!
And for me, that’s what The Weeknd signifies, abstract pain. But not just that, it is presented in a way that the depth of the album doesn’t frighten you but instead makes you want to fall that bit deeper hoping to understand it better. And that’s the messed up thing about it, it’s not even your pain! You have no business with this pain, you shouldn’t even be able to relate to this pain, but you can and its unfamiliar and beautiful. That is what House of Balloons is to me and the new addition to it fits more than perfectly… “Twenty Eight” gives me life. Abel’s notes on this track literally blows down my spine.The whole damn song is the epitome of cool, makes me want to have a nasty break up just so I have full rights to play this on a constant loop!
Our next stop is Thursday and the song I just have to plug to you from it right now is “Gone“. I literally have no words for this song, it’s like ear magic! Just when you think the beat is about to explode it drops, and you’re left with these out of space notes and then those are quickly replaced again by quick heavy beats. But what really gets me about this song is how it morphs into something completely different, out of nowhere these exotic drums come in and your brain is riding this new creation of sound. Its an audio movie that transitions so smoothly that you catch yourself checking the screen to see if its the same song. It also doesn’t hurt that its about 8 minutes long!
Its bonus time folks! The next song I will be sharing with you is titled “Valerie” and to be honest I’m not completely sure what I’m feeling with this track. I mean for one thing its completely honest, and the lyrics aren’t as dark as his other tracks but there’s something more to it, I just can’t put my finger on it. Now I could be wrong, “Valerie” could be a symbol for some dark addictive substance, who knows?!? I love the emotions that comes in at the last minute of the song – it just makes it that bit more believable and easy to take in. With The Weeknd, there’s always a sense of distant pain which makes it easy to enjoy but with the last bit of this song the emotion has more of a presence and somehow feels closer. Now this could all be in my head, you know how I get sometimes, but just to be sure have a listen yourself.
Moving on to the last part of the Trilogy album, we’re going to take a quick look at Echoes of Silence. Personally, I find the album at its darkest here, I find myself refusing to let some of the lyrics sink in at all. It takes me back into that dingy room with the infinite fall. And its funny that this is the last part of the album because we came into the Trilogy with House of Balloons which most people will call dark and twisted but then you get to Thursday and it goes a little deeper, suddenly the tracks on House of Balloons sound like songs that you can hear on the radio.
Each part of this album takes you deeper down till you reach Echoes of Silence and it’s almost like you’ve reached the end of your fall. You hear it in his vocals too! The lyrics lose clarity in some tracks, and come across as drunken slurs, thankfully its on tracks like “Initiation” where I don’t want to hear what the actual lyrics are. But alas! There’s an odd light in this very dingy room and it comes in the form of “Till Dawn (Here Comes the Sun)”. Beautiful track and dare I say uplifting?? I would never have imagined myself using uplifting to describe The Weeknd but compared to all the tracks in this last part of the album, uplifting is all I can think of.
So we’ve looked at the Trilogy in its three parts, I don’t see anyone looking at it as a 30 track album, it’s 3 hours! Artist as deep as The Weeknd should be taken in little doses, its definitely not for easy listening. That being said, it’s an amazing change from the “music” we have floating in the charts today. Despite being compiled as a whole album, I suspect that listeners are still going to come away with having picked one of the three parts as their album of choice. However it is a good concept, I feel like I just bought the boxset of my favourite series and I have the whole weekend to just binge! But apart from that, it gives fans and curious listeners something to go away with. Even if his style of music is not what you would normally listen to you’re guaranteed to love something from the first part of the Trilogy. If you’re already a fan then the second part of the Trilogy should really get your juices flowing. And if you found House of Balloons a bit too “commercial” for you then by all means skip to the final part of the album and kick back!
At 22, such creativity is shocking but not just that, its the sheer originality of his music that gets to me. It’s like he lives underground and doesn’t listen to anything that’s getting airtime these days. Abel Tesfaye makes art and its so unique and personal! A lot of the times I feel like the songs he writes are just for himself and he’s indifferent to whether he carries us with it, and unconcerned about whether or not we get it. But not just that, he’s done it with such boldness that you can’t help but acknowledge or appreciate him if for nothing else other than the fact he’s so openly underground in today’s music.
Purchase: The Weeknd – Trilogy (iTunes)