The release of The Weeknd’s debut album is only one week away and the good folks over at NPR are giving everyone an early listen to the new project. The Weeknd did release a commercial album late last year, but it was literally a compilation of his three free mixtapes (House of Baloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence) with three bonus tracks. Despite the fact that anyone that purchased that already had all but three songs in their playlist, The Weeknd went on to debut at number 4 on the Billboard charts with 86,000 units sold in its first week. He has since gone gold with over 500,000 units sold in the United States. That really says a lot about his core audience and it is only getting larger. Fast forward 8 months and his debut album, Kiss Land, is here and, to put it simply, it is really good.
The Weeknd doesn’t stray away from the sound that got him that loyal core audience except for a song or two, but not in a bad way. The album kicks off with “Professional,” which is the opposite of what a strip club anthem a rapper or singer would make in today’s music scene. He sings about the stripper’s happiness not being real, depending on other people’s money, getting rich to the drums of her favorite song, teaching herself to smile and much more. This song would really make a stripper reconsider her career choice after a few listens but, somehow, I feel The Weeknd won’t be hated for it because he really has a way of making it sound good despite the message he is trying to give on the song. The song that immediately follows is “The Town,” where The Weeknd tries to get with a girl from his past upon returning home after all of his traveling.
It seems like The Weeknd didn’t necessarily get what he wanted on “The Town” because he sings about losing the one person that held him together on “Adaption.” He instead chose to adapt to his new lifestyle which consisted of models, bottles and all that comes with that. He uses an accent on the hook, which doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t take away anything from the song. It has some of the best production on the entire album. The two songs that follow were both released prior to the album stream NPR provided. “Love In The Sky” and “Belong To The World” stay true to the dark theme that The Weeknd has stuck with up until this part of the album, but my favorite of the two has to be “Belong To The World.” The production on the song and the cool video The Weeknd released for the song are the reasons I like the song a bit more.
The lone feature on the album is Drake’s verse on the upbeat track, “Live For.” The Weeknd and Drake’s past collaborations have fared well on the radio and I don’t see the reception of this joint being any different. We may see these two on a track together in the near future with Drake’s Nothing Was The Same album, set to be released later this month as well. The song that follows is “Wanderlust,” which reminds me of Frank Ocean’s “Lost” off of channel ORANGE. They both seem to be out of place on their respective albums, but really show that they can make those Pop records with ease if need be.
The Weeknd once again talks about his drastic lifestyle change on the previously-released title track, “Kiss Land.” The Weeknd sings “I went from starin’ at the same four walls for 21 years, to seein’ the whole world in just twelve months. Been gone for so long, I might have just found God. Well probably not, if I keep my habits up.” That definitely should take some time to adjust to, no matter who you are.
The Weeknd has always made personal music and this entire album is no different. If he continues to combine his great voice, lyrics and production, the sky is really the limit for him. At 23, super-stardom is a possibility and may not be far away.
Key Tracks: Live For, Belong To The World, Professional, Adaptation, Wanderlust