Take off my disguise. I’m living someone else’s life. Suppressing who I was inside.
-The Weeknd on “Alone Again”
When The Weeknd dropped his single “Heartless” back in November of 2019, in my original write up, I stated “The Weeknd is way too calculated for this to just be a one-and-done”. That statement alone, followed by what we have been witnessing for the past three, almost four months, has been nothing but the perfect setup to debut his next body of work. After being relatively silent since the release of his last debut album “Starboy” in 2016, and his “My Dear Melancholy,” back in 2018, fans were long overdue for a new full-length project from The Weeknd. After months of visuals, singles, late-night television appearances, promo and all, our eardrums have finally been blessed with the newest release from The Weeknd, After Hours.
The traditional album rollout has not been as prominent in the landscape of the music industry as of late. Many artists lock in for some months, cook up some music, and announce a project weeks, sometimes hours before release. While this may work for some, others may not be afforded that luxury. While The Weeknd definitely has enough star power to do the surprise drop, as he did in 2018, he wanted to return back to the roots of building up the hype for the album, and prepping the fans for what will be one of his best albums to date. Since November, we have been seeing Instagram posts, music videos, and short films with The Weeknd and this infamous red tuxedo with the bloody nose-and what it all has lead up to is nothing but amazing artistry, uniqueness, and unflawed story telling.
An aspect of music that should never go unnoticed is the artists ability to tie in their projects and make their follow ups become sequels to their previous bodies of work. On My Dear Melancholy,, it was an EP about his sadness and the after affects of dealing with heartbreak—giving a woman his all and watching it crumble right before him. Here on the follow up, that theme alone has gone missing here, as he is now reverting to his old ways of being heartless again. In fact, in an interview with CR Fashion Book, he spoke on behalf of “Heartless” in which he stated “It was the first song I wrote after that album [My Dear Melancholy,].That said, the vibe of this album basically revolves around that aspect of The Weeknd reverting back to his old self and realizing that he is not as great at love as he thought he once was.
Introducing the album is the track “Alone Again” in which The Weeknd reflects on his past love experiences and realizes that he is not being who is is used to be, crooning “I don’t know if I can be alone again”. This may be the idea of him wanting relations with a woman without actually wanting commitment with that said person. He later confirms this in the song where he says “Oh baby, you wont remind me who I am, and break my little cold heart.” On the song “Hardest to Love”, Weeknd takes some accountability on the realization that that he is not the easiest person to be in a relationship with . The acknowledgement of knowing that he is displaying some unfavorable traits in the relationship, yet still allowing this person to stick with him is something that he comes to terms with on this track, and is a persistent theme throughout the album. Admitting this is only the first step, but he takes second steps on the track “Scared to Live”, where he gives a little encouragement to anyone who has dealt with him in the past. He knows the mental and emotional stress that he has placed on them, and reassures them that they should not be afraid to live their life outside of his.
Another theme The Weeknd touches on here is his mindset of being tired of Los Angeles and wanting to leave. On “Snowchild”, he reflects on his past and his cold days back in Canada. So much so, the hook sings “Cali was the mission, but now a n*gga leaving'”. The track to follow, coincidentally enough, is titled “Escape From LA” where he goes in depth about the LA lifestyle and how he wants to be taken out of it. Living in LA is something that many artist describe as being a completely different universe and it can consume you if you travel down the wrong path. It seems as if The Weeknd wants to go back home to get back to his roots, and potentially revive a bit of healing and quarantine away from the toxicity that lies in LA.
Album sequencing is superb here, and I always love to hear the albums that do this perfectly. The production here being handled mostly by Metro Boomin and long-time collaborator Illangelo, to retain that original Weeknd feel. After Hours tells the story in perfect unison of someone who is coming to terms with their issues, and owning up to their mistakes-not only as a person, but in love as well.
Stream the new album After Hours below!