Although previously released for free online, Abel Tesfaye’s trilogy of mixtapes House Of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes Of Silence come together to reveal the true grandeur he intended in this ambitious 30-track effort.
Although many will argue that this was released purely to make money and that he should of released brand new material for his album, The Weeknd sounds better than ever. Each song has been remastered and mixed, as well as the inclusion of an additional song on each part. The mystery surrounding him may of gone, but the smooth RnB blends sound just as sweet as when first released, and when played consecutively, the mixtapes present a narrative of Abel’s life, and his converge from ecstasy to near depression.
House Of Balloons (and Trilogy as a whole) begin with the dubstep infused “High For This”, which reminds us all that we “Wanna be, high for this” during the huge chorus, within the first minute. This is certainly true, and the woozy atmosphere sets the tone for the whole album. On songs like “Loft Music” and “The Morning”, the mellow backdrops crafted by producers Illangelo and Doc McKinney, combined with The Weeknd’s unorthodox melodies create an ecstatic yet chilled out kind of party atmosphere as he explores and experiments with various drugs (and various women).
Thursday definitely suffered from second-album-syndrome, and is the weaker of all three, but is still exceptional. The atmosphere changes on this section, as the euphoria transforms to unease. The narrative voice is more disconcerting, and The Weeknd comes off as a self loathing character. “Don’t make me make you fall in love” he sings on “The Birds”, showing his vulnerability and his fear of what the coming fame will do to him. A worthy mention on Thursday, is the outstanding performance from sole guest (excluding Juicy J’s cameo), Drake. “The Zone” is a sexy and slow jam, with head-knocking drums, and if listeners wait until around about five minutes in, they are blessed with a treat from Drizzy. He picks up the pace, with a fast verse that compliments the beat perfectly, and is a welcome change of pace.
With Echoes Of Silence, Weeknd uses less massive hooks, and more complex songwriting, as well as developing the darker atmosphere. For example, “The Initiation” is a dark, yet wondrously sexy song, in which his voices pitch is continuously manipulated, becoming every stoner’s nightmare. “Same Old Song” sticks to the formula however, with a massive hook, and a hilarious cameo from Juicy J (“ITS CHRISTMAS N***A, SHUT THE FUCK UP”). “You never thought I’d make it this far” he croons, once again showing his vulnerability and resentment towards certain women in his life. Echoes opening song is a cover of Michael Jackon’s “Dirty Diana”, and my god does he do it justice. Delivered spookily similar to MJ himself, “D.D.” is an outstanding vocal performance, as Abel sounds disturbed by a woman’s advances, but unable to stop her.
Out of the three new songs, “Twenty-Eight” is the most memorable, with another creepy yet sexy chorus, sang in a distorted falsetto.
Overall, The Weeknd has managed to keep most of the original magic of his mixtapes, and the woozy R&B is one of a kind. No one is making music like this, and hopefully he will continue to do so in the near future. Although crafting a narrative, listening to all 30 songs can be bit of a slog, especially when some clock in at about 10 minutes long each. The music is no easy listen, but when you’re trying to set the mood (“The Weeknd make the ladiez panties WET”- Juicy J), or feeling slightly broody, Abel is your man.