Weekdaze: A Track-By-Track Review Of The Weeknd's 'Beauty Behind The Madness' LP
Finding beauty in the Weeknd's madness
The Weeknd is constantly searching for a fix. Whether it’s white lines or meaningless sex, the shaggy-haired XO leader has become the drugged-up distributor of melancholy love songs, finding semblances of inner satisfaction in external pleasures. Before bumping mics with Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, The Weeknd was just another Canadian crooner who received Drake’s blessing off the strength of his 2011 House of Balloons project, which resulted in cameos on Aubrey's emo opus Take Care (See: "Crew Love," "Ride" and "Shot For Me"). The exposure transformed his grungy R&B sound into a cult favorite.
Since rolling out a trio of mixtapes and his major label debut Kiss Land in 2013 (Universal/ Republic), The Weeknd has turned his personal lows into an impressive high. His 50 Shades of Grey deep cut "Earned It" and Ariana Grande duet "Love Me Harder" have not only rolled in the checks, but made his dark chamber music a sought-out sound in pop. On the Kanye West-produced jam “Tell Your Friends,” The Weeknd himself says the time for pleasantries is done. “Last year, I did all the politickin’/ This year, I’m all focused on the vision,” he sings. Now, all dude sees is $igns.
For his sophomore studio effort, Beauty Behind The Madness, we wore The Weeknd’s latest release out and gathered our thoughts, track-by-track. Read on below.
"Real Life": It’s hard to pinpoint where The Weeknd ends and Abel Tesfaye begins, but when it comes to the special ladies in his life, he admits he’s more into his alone time. He also channels his inner MJ (yet again) by employing a “Billie Jean”-esque bridge: “People always told me be careful of what you do/ And don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts/ And mother always told me be careful of who you love/ And be careful of what you do ‘cause the lie becomes the truth.”
”Losers”: Tapping British soul wunderkind Labrinth, The Weeknd glorifies the life of a dropout-turned-star, proving wisdom sometimes can’t be taught.
”Tell Your Friends”: Kanye West gets behind the board for one of the Weeknd’s more soothing jawns. It serves as an alarm clock for any snoozers on the XO movement, but also a not-so-humblebrag about his girl kissing-and-telling: “Baby girl just wanna smoke a pound/ Do an ounce, get some d*ck/ Tell her friends about it.”
”Often”: Here, The Weeknd suits up as the more X-rated version of Christian Grey (if you could imagine one existing), crooning about his between-the-sheets soirees and how he murders the kitty kat on the regular.
”The Hills”: Abel lays down the law on his booty call partner, keeping his and her feelings strictly out of the equation. When it comes to bedroom romps or a chilling late-night soundtrack, The Weeknd always dictates the tempo.
”Acquainted”: The Weeknd continues his body party with yet another touchy-feely track. Part-time lovers always fit into his schedule.
”Can’t Feel My Face”: This is peak Weeknd pop, especially with Max Martin’s golden touch. Abel gets his groove on, likening the warm fuzzies for his lady to the effects of popping pills. Romantic, noh?
”Shameless”: The Weeknd turns down the lights for this guitar-driven melody. Sh*t gets deeper on a spiritual level but he still manages to squeeze in the rhetorical question, “Who’s gonna f*ck you like me?”
”Earned It”: Only The Weeknd could nail the riffs on this foreplay-perfect steamer. The 50 Shades cosign also nails the feels.
”In The Night”: The comparisons to Mike can’t stop, won’t stop, especially when The Weeknd delivers snappy gems with a story like this. The concept was birthed inside the walls of Marilyn Monroe’s old home, which now serves as Max Martin’s studio and in the Weeknd's mind, a Joe DiMaggio sperm bank.
”As You Are”: The sensual track shows The Weeknd fighting to keep a good thing going, despite the relationship appearing destined to fail. Of course, he uses sex as a pro (“We can sex all night”) but ultimately, accepts her flaws so that they can flourish. “Show me your broken heart and all your scars/ Baby I’ll take you as you are,” he sings.
”Dark Times”: The ginger-haired guitar hero, Ed Sheeran, lends his rhythm and blues to the Ben Billions and Illangelo-produced ode to depression.
”Prisoner”: Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd sharing wax is perfect harmony. Despite being captive to their lifestyles, it’s the thrill of the chase that keeps them grinding.
”Angel”: Weeknd takes a stab at soft rock for the album’s closer. Though he sings to his beloved, the hook almost serves as a side note to his listeners: “I hope you find somebody.”