Dripping with melancholy, drugs, and Echoes of Silence, The Weeknd is back with a 6-track project titled My Dear Melancholy. It’s not exactly Wicked Games era, but it’s so good we can only hope that a longer 15-track album follows shortly.
The Weeknd’s last album, Starboy, dropped two years ago in 2016, gaining him a Grammy for Best Contemporary Urban Album. He has also since appeared in the Black Panther soundtrack, working with Kendrick Lamar once again for “Pray for Me.” Although Starboy was a stark contrast to the rest of his albums, filled with pop, daft punk, and perfect for radio hits instead of his signature emo, rated-R sound, it was still great in its own essence and by showing that he as an artist hadn’t completely lost his soul to the mainstream world.
The Weeknd comes back to us with this album, high notes and all, crying out “I almost cut a piece of myself for your life” in the first song titled “Call Out My Name.” Possibly a reference to his recent ex-girlfriend, singer/actress Selena Gomez’s recent kidney transplant.
You can hear the betrayal in his voice as he talks being used and tossed away by someone he was willing to give a piece of himself away to. The humiliation of being purely vulnerable yet finding out he was filling in as a temporary replacement for someone else is a slap to the face, referring to himself as a pit spot and begging her to call out his name to serve as a sense of validation in replacement for the love she never gave him while riffs from an electric guitar echo in the background.
He follows up with “Try Me”, which lyrically resonates, but musically reminds me of his recent material, followed up by “Wasted Times” which opens up sounding like “Angel” from Beauty Behind the Madness, but instead of lyrics about angels and sacrifice, he sings about ownership and smugly questions who she’s with, taunting that they’re not better than he is. It breaks off with “I’ll take my time to learn the way your body functions, you were equestrian so ride it like a champion” mimicking the melody of another one of his other songs, “Often.”
“I Was Never There” ft. Gesaffeistein sounds like one huge trip, instantly throwing us back to House of Ballons days as he starts questioning “what makes a grown man wanna cry, what makes him wanna take his life.” The suicidal lyrics and daunting electronic sirens obscuring the slow synths playing in the background sounds exactly like his old material, the unexpected beat drop at 2:17 taking us even deeper down the rabbit hole like true Trilogy culture.
The fifth song, “Hurt You” ft. Gesaffesistein, is an instant jab to his last relationship, saying he now knows relationships are his enemy and warning women to “stay the f**k away from me.” The explicit lyrics are nostalgic as he sings about sex, pain, and the strong desire to save whoever he’s singing about from himself. The same sirens from “I was Never There” are obviously Gesaffesteins work, beautifully distinguishing the two songs from the rest of the album.
The last song “Privilege” is a goodbye to whoever he’s been singing about. He states that he’s done with their relationship and turns into a slow r&b song as he sings about drinking the pain away and going back to his old ways. “I got two red pills to chase the blue away” he croons, his old problems are back to haunt him despite his fame and success, thoughts of suicide brushing his mind once again.
It transitions smoothly back to “Call Out My Name”, Abel’s velvety voice dragging you back into the beautiful dark rabbit hole which seems to be his mind and you catch yourself listening to the entire album yet again. By the third time, you’ll be able to distinguish the little things like the muffled confessions he makes at the beginning and end of some songs.