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Album Review; The Weeknd - Beauty Behind The Madness

Album Review; The Weeknd - Beauty Behind The Madness

By: Ronan Haughey & Danny Judge

Since emerging from the mysterious shadows that started his career in 2011, Abel Tesfaye (AKA The Weeknd) has taken the music world by storm; something which shows no sign of stopping with his latest album Beauty Behind The Madness, a blistering high-tempo collection of soulful and energetic songs. and this year he has continued to do so. After building hype by releasing an abundance of singles and videos earlier in the year, the album has been well worth the wait.

Since emerging from the mysterious shadows that started his career in 2011, Abel Tesfaye (AKA The Weeknd) has taken the music world by storm; something which shows no sign of stopping with his latest album Beauty Behind The Madness, a blistering high-tempo collection of soulful and energetic songs. and this year he has continued to do so. After building hype by releasing an abundance of singles and videos earlier in the year, the album has been well worth the wait.

The album opens with ‘Real Life’, an emotional track which really sets the tone for the album. Featuring a glorious build up of electric strings and the Weeknd’s classic soulful vocals, it makes for a strong opener to the record. Tesfaye's emotional lyrics aim at addressing his struggle with balancing of his personal and work life after becoming an international star. ‘Losers’ continues this analytical trend, examining Tesfaye's success (despite dropping out of high school) with the opening line ‘Only losers go to school, I taught myself how to move’. His personal experience and opinions are explicitly stated throughout, and the backing vocals from the UK’s R&B singer Labrinth adds a flare of emotion and a new tone to the track, making it a serious yet stylish piece of music. The album falls back to old roots with showings from older tracks 'Earned It' and 'Often', and a shoutout to earlier days with a mixtape-esque tune in ‘Tell Your Friends’. This returns to the original stylings of The Weeknd’s mixtape days with more explicit lyrics referencing drug use, and seems to be voiced to his newer fans by offering them a window into his older lifestyle of 'coke lines' and 'popping pills'. Presidential aspirations aside, Kanye West’s (we'll bet £20 on #kanyeforpresident2020) production skills have made it even more of a hit; the instrumentals are flawless, and Kanye's ability to create a solid track keeps you hitting the replay button. 

The Weeknd's signature soulful edge really comes through in the global success ‘Can't Feel My Face’, which has recently been accompanied by a video. Hailed by many as the song of the year, it's a great addition to the album. 'In The Night' and 'As You Are' help to continue this trend of strong songs, and are two songs where the Michael Jackson comparisons can really be heard; a strong vocal range and pop-style instrumental sections help cement this feeling. Some of the most-listened tracks from this album, however, have to be the two collaborations with Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey respectively. 'Dark Times' with Ed Sheeran is a soulful hit, with the pair complimenting each other's artistry; from the vocals to the smooth instrumental accompaniment, the track makes for blissful listening. 'Prisoners', however, takes centre-stage with Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd's vocals mixing heavenly to create a soothing masterpiece.

Beauty Behind The Madness ends with ‘Angel’, a personal touch that rounds off the album and fades out somewhat peacefully, giving the listener time to reflect on the album. Beauty Behind The Madness is a big statement from The Weeknd; he's at a turning point in his career, where he's got big and can start to choose and refine the type of music he wants to create. The inherent question in this album has to be: will he go towards the mainstream, or stick to his mixtape roots? Regardless, this album is a perfect example of what great music he can create and what true talent he has. If you've got time to check out this album, do; if you haven't, make some.

The Weeknd's third album Beauty Behind The Madness is out now on XO/Island Records.

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