In March 2011, when The Weeknd released his seminal debut mixtape “House of Balloons,” the kernel of pop sensibility in those tracks hinted to his current pop stardom. It is considered by most to be his most important and best work.
However, there was — and still is — a vocal minority that prefers “Echoes of Silence,” the last of the three mixtapes that The Weeknd released in 2011. These tracks had a more poignant and genuine ennui, and the mixtape did not have a single song that would ever make sense to be played on the radio.
Hours before he released his new EP “My Dear Melancholy,” The Weeknd announced the project on his Instagram account and mentioned that he was going back to his roots. As a pleasant surprise, it seems he aimed for “Echoes of Silence” rather than “House of Balloons.”
The unfortunate truth, however, is that it seems he has lost touch with the part of himself that created that tape originally. After promoting an EP that does not appeal to the mass market, The Weeknd ultimately delivered a messy, confused project that falls in no man’s land.
It seems like Abel gave up on finding what made his mixtape series so magical and instead decided to crank the reverb all the way up in a lazy effort to recreate the hazy feeling that he was once the master of delivering.
“My Dear Melancholy” finds Abel singing mostly about a break up, presumably with his latest ex-girlfriend and one of the top ten most boring celebrities, Selena Gomez. Somewhat shockingly, he does so from a new perspective: that of the one left hurt.
The Weeknd’s career up to this point had been defined by a callous persona, one that lacks sympathy for those he hurts, so this shift had the potential to bring about the next step of artistic progression in his career. Instead, this new direction resulted in some of the worst lyrics fans have heard from him to date.
While The Weeknd used to make his listeners wince at his reckless and damaging hedonism, he now sings in platitudes that would make the most avid soap opera fans roll their eyes.
Old Weeknd, on cheating and not taking a shower afterwards: “I’mma let you taste her. I ain’t washing my sins.”
New Weeknd, on being dumped: “I don’t wanna wake up if you ain’t next to me.”
It is unbelievable these two lyrics came from the same person.
Even with its relative weakness, “My Dear Melancholy” is not completely terrible. No matter how much he waters it down, The Weeknd is still one of the world’s greatest musical talents right now.
One track, “Privilege,” goes against all the others with adept lyrical and aesthetic constructions, nearly erasing the bad taste left by the rest of the tracks. While “Privilege” proves that Abel has not lost himself completely, it does force the question: how much time does he really have left at the top?