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Why “After Hours” Is The Weeknd’s Best Album

From deadly updates on the Coronavirus to quarantine mandates, The Weeknd’s long-awaited album After Hours offered a ray of light after one of the worst couple of weeks anyone can remember. I mean, I’d much rather be quarantined with new music to listen to than nothing at all. On March 20, the Canadian star released his fourth album, and upon hearing the first track “Alone Again”, I was instantly entranced by its Trilogy-esque undertones mixed up with dazy hip hop and techno tunes.

To be upfront, I was not expecting to love the album as much as I do. Although I have been a fan of The Weeknd for years, recently I found myself tired of re-listening to his previous songs on repeat (you can only listen to “The Morning” so many times) and started to wonder when he would make music again. And honestly, after all three of the albums I loved in no particular order (I’m kidding, Trilogy is my favorite), I didn’t think his newest would top them.

To my surprise, I strongly believe that After Hours is his best and most accomplished album yet, with the perfect collision of 80’s beats, dream pop, and R&B. There is truly a song for anything you are going through, and his lyrics exude such raw authenticity that you could really feel his pain or heartache through each song. The one song that particularly struck me the most was “Snowchild”, where he blatantly expresses the troubles he went through growing up, all beautifully in sync with a gloomy yet dreamy tune. The lyrical vulnerability of “Escape From LA” also captured the toxic and fast-paced environment of Los Angeles that inevitably led to the downfall of a relationship with his lover. And yes, everyone is thinking the same thing with this song: Bella Hadid.

Although he no longer paints himself as the dysfunctional addict from his “Trilogy Years”, he still isn’t willing to be the perfect partner. Despite his explicit glorification of loneliness, escapist pleasures, including drugs and sex, and a nonchalant nihilist attitude, above all, it’s honest and real. He’s not trying to paint himself in a new narrative but wants us to know he’s struggling to reconcile the sinner he once was with the man he’s trying to become.

Another reason I find this album to be the best was in its versatility unlike any other. The album really showed how he doesn’t place himself into just the R&B category and is able to branch out into different realms of musicality and appeal to many audiences. Although in some songs we do find a traditional R&B vibe, especially in “Escape From LA”, he incorporates dazy techno vibes, nostalgic 80’s synth-pop, and modern hip-hop. His strong vocals, musical and artistic versatility and honest vulnerability are the keys to the album’s success. I can tell that this is going to be an album that people will still be obsessing over years from now.

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Em is a junior from Miami double majoring in psychology and English: editing, writing, & media. Writing, fashion, and astrology are some of her interests and she hopes to pursue a degree in fashion ujournalism.
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