An avid lover of music with a flair for writing. A core hip-hop fan with a thing for boom-bap beats and bars.
"After Hours" Album Review
Four years after his radio friendly and dance-ready Starboy album hit the Billboard charts, The Weeknd returns with a darker and more introspective Abel on his fourth studio album titled After Hours. This album sees Abel Tesfaye torn between his old ways where he presented a mysterious bad boy identity, and his new identity as a mainstream artiste trying to abstain from drugs, which he expresses on the first track “Alone again”. After Hours explores themes such as loneliness, heartbreak, infidelity and self-loatheness from Abel’s “bad boy” perspective and its dark feel is speculated to have been inspired by his break up with American model, Bella Hadid which can be deduced from several tracks on the album such as “Alone Again” and “Hardest to Love” although there are claims that they are back together.
Consisting of 14 tracks, After Hours offers listeners a dark R&B spectacle with brilliant production oozing throughout the entire album. It kicks off with “Alone Again” which is a perfect introduction to what we were to expect from the whole project, a darker and self-loathing Abel crooning about his feelings. “Too late” sees Abel expressing remorse and regret for his contributions towards the failure of his past relationships. “Hardest to love” is a brilliant R&B ballad accompanied with shuffling drum ’n’ bass which creates a hedonistic thrill. "Scared to live" samples Elton John’s classic “Your Song” and evokes a nostalgic atmosphere due to its 1980s style which makes for a perfectly sentimental new wave classic.
“Snowchild” sees Abel on a trip down memory lane as he talks about his dreams and aspirations during his teenage years. He rap-sings about his drug use, his rough lifestyle at the time and compares it to his lifestyle now, bragging about his futuristic sex with his “Philip K. dick”, and his wealth while paying homage to Jay-Z and Eminem. On “Escape from LA”, Abel sings about being torn between true love and “a cold hearted bitch with no shame” with a “throat too fire” which implies being good at oral sex. He laments about living in Los Angles which he thinks would be the end of him, a place where he reportedly met two of his girlfriends, Selena Gomez and Bella Hadid. On “Heartless”, Abel embraces the lifestyle he had been running from, the sex loving and drug using bad boy is ever present here. He croons about drugs and how they make him feel.
Blinding Lights Music video
The synths and siren production from Metro Boomin on “Faith” perfectly encapsulates the drug use, which Abel gloriously croons about as a factor that affects his relationships with women. “Blinding Lights” successfully captures the 1980s atmosphere with 80s inspired synths and dance music drums. On this track, Abel expresses his desire to be loved and touched despite his bad boy image and his success. The next track, “In Your Eyes” sees Abel having a heart to heart with his partner about knowing about her infidelity but he claims he does not want to know more as it might lead to him being heartbroken. He croons “ I just pretend that I’m in the dark/ I don’t regret ‘cause my heart can’t take a loss/ I’d rather be so oblivious/ I’d rather be with you”.
On “Save Your Tears”, the new wave production perfectly captures Abel addressing his failed relationships and acknowledging that he was responsible for the most part for the failure of the relationship while telling his partner to move on because he realizes he is too late. “Repeat After Me (Interlude)” is an attempt to brainwash his ex into thinking she does not love her current partner because of her past relationship with Abel. However, it might be Abel trying to make himself feel better after his partner moved on from him. On “After Hours” which is the title track for the album, Abel Tesfaye gives us a vivid image of his loneliness and heart break, he has come to terms with the fact that he is torn between his bad boy personality and his genuine need for love as he croons “I turned into the man I used to be”. On this track he asks for forgiveness and wants to reconcile with his partner which is evident from the chorus “Sorry that I broke your heart, your heart / and I said, baby/ i'll treat you better than I did before”. The final track “Until I Bleed Out” sees Abel worn out at the end of this emotional roller coaster. He is done fighting for the relationship which he has talked about on the entirety of this project and he is also done with drug usage which is evident in the verse “And I don’t even wanna get high no more / just want it out of my life / out of my life / out”. This song serves as a perfect outro to the project as he makes up his mind to be sober from drugs such as lean and amphetamine which he has referenced throughout this album. He has also made up his mind to be self-dependent as he wants to do away with love due to the constant heartbreaks it brings.
Abel Tesfaye succeeds in creating an entire album about his state of mind which might be the reason why the album does not include any features. The immaculate work done by the producers such as Max Martin, Metro Boomin and Illangelo is one that should be credited immensely as they succeeded in making such a dark and introspective record sound thrilling to the ears. The ability of the producers to successfully evoke nostalgia using 1970s and 1980s sounds without making the album feel out of place in 2020 should also be commended.
After Hours might be the most cohesive album The weeknd has ever made, as every track starting from the intro “Alone Again” to the last “Until I Bleed Out” blends in perfectly into one another. He also fulfills the expectations of his fans by tapping into darker territory which was a hallmark of his earlier works such as the House of Ballons project. Every message being sent across through the tracks and its music videos are brilliantly conveyed and they are put across in such a way that a listener can understand what Abel is trying to put together. Although there are traces of misogynistic tendencies on some tracks which were not necessary, the After Hours album shows that The Weeknd is definitely growing as an artiste. This might be his best ever album with no skips for me, which makes it a strong contender for my album of the year.
Essential Tracks: "Hardest to love", "Blinding Lights" and "Scared to live again".
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Fawaz Akintunde
Fawaz Akintunde (author) from Lagos, Nigeria on June 24, 2020:
You should absolutely check him out. Especially this album, it might just be his best ever album. You can also check out his house of balloons mixtape or his Starboy album if you are into more pop friendly songs
Farrah Young from Lagos, Nigeria on June 24, 2020:
Nice track, although the beginning was a little too heavy for me. I hadn't heard of him until now.
Fawaz Akintunde (author) from Lagos, Nigeria on June 22, 2020:
Yes you should, Ige. It's a masterpiece for me and a front-runner for album of the year
Ige on June 20, 2020:
I tot the weeknd was overhyped maybe i should go check this album
Fawaz Akintunde (author) from Lagos, Nigeria on June 20, 2020:
Yeah you should check his work out. Especially this album, he really went off on this one
Oshinowo Sherif from Lagos, Nigeria on June 20, 2020:
I wasn't a fan of The Weekend before this, but I think I need to check him out now!!
ONI-AWE Deborah on June 20, 2020:
Nice write up bro