Review : The Weeknd - Echoes of Silence
Pitchfork"Baby, I got you/ Until you're used to my face, and my mystery fades," Abel Tesfaye sang on "Rolling Stone". It was a surprisingly self-effacing line for a singer whose mystique is a central part of his appeal. And he's not wrong. By now, we know most of Tesfaye's tricks: his choir-worthy voice, his debauched lyrics, and the rich tapestry of synths and samples that backs it all up. His third full-length in nine months, Echoes of Silence, is more self-referential than ever, repeating lines and themes from previous records, including XO cognac (or ecstasy and oxycontin, if you prefer), questionably consensual sex, and self-destructive behavior. It was novel on his debut House of Balloons, but does it still work three albums in?
Well, it turns out Tesfaye isn't out of surprises: As his fans now know, opening track "D.D." stands for "Dirty Diana", and Tesfaye channels the King of Pop with an eerily accurate vocal facsimile. It's an audacious intro even for an artist whose output has already stretched lyrical and musical themes to depraved extremes. The ease with which Tesfaye can shock and awe listeners at this point feels like something of a victory lap.
Where House of Balloons was a debut tour-de-force, and Thursday an arduous journey into the internal turmoil of a self-loathing narcissist, Echoes of Silence exudes a brazen, animalistic confidence: The production is impeccable but never showy. The songwriting is tighter and more streamlined. The slinky, spectral "Montreal" is the closest thing to a pure pop song Tesfaye has written since "What You Need". And his conversational intonation emphasizes the lingering threat that underlies every lyric....full text
Billboardithin a year's time, The Weeknd has become one of the forerunners in an emotionally magnified, peculiar thread of R&B with a mixtape trilogy. Late Wednesday night (Dec. 21), The Weeknd gave his rabid fans a tasty Christmas present: his promised third mixtape of 2011, "Echoes of Silence." After a few listens, the follow-up to the mysterious R&B singer's stunning debut, "House of Balloons," and its good-but-not-great sequel, "Thursday," appears to represent a sonic combination of his two previous albums in the best way possible.
While "Balloons" was built around dark, dangerous hooks and subtly crafted beats, "Thursday" was more experimental, pushing its production into more complex territories and tinkering with Abel Tesfaye's song structures. "Echoes of Silence" essentially draws upon the strengths of both albums: tracks like "Next" and "Same Old Song" are straightforward and seductive, while "Initiation" and "Montreal" take detours with the use of vocal distortion and multi-lingual depression. Tesfaye is learning when to take risks and learning when to just let his breathtaking pipes shine, and that balance creates a cohesive 9-track product....full text
EntertainmentIn just under a year, Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, has seen one of the most rapid ascents into music’s upper echelons in recent memory. Completely unknown at the start of 2011, Tesfaye began making huge waves in late March with the release of his debut mixtape House of Balloons, which quickly garnered all manners of acclaim including a Polaris Music Prize nomination in his native Canada. Since then, he’s dropped another acclaimed mixtape, and he’s worked alongside Drake, specifically on this year’s much-lauded Take Care. Still, it’s easy to forget that The Weeknd has yet to release a proper album.
(MORE: The Weeknd’s Sinful Sounds)
Echoes of Silence, then, acts as a fitting conclusion to the trilogy Tesfaye began back in March of this year. Combining the sunless atmospherics of Balloons and Thursday‘s disillusioned self-consciousness with his considerably improved lyrical prowess and the experience that came with Tesfaye’s much-discussed fraternizing with fellow Toronto native Drake, it’s The Weeknd’s most concentrated effort to date and one that sets the bar inordinately high for that imminent debut album. Kicking off with a huge, clattering rework of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana,” Echoes finds Tesfaye quick to align himself with the King of Pop, music’s most unanimously beloved and accessible star. It’s a fairly faithful and straightforward cover that does well to both showcase Tesfaye’s mad pipes and draw parallels between the song’s debauched narrative and the depraved tales of drugs and sex that’ve become The Weeknd’s most immediately recognizable trademark.
The mixtape also highlights the huge strides Tesfaye has made since both of his prior outings. Where Thursday faltered was where it sought to explore the lifestyle that came with Tesfaye’s newfound fame, occasionally coming off as rather reactionary as he bemoaned the pitfalls of his new lifestyle. Here, he’s much more assured, such as on ”Same Old Song,” one of this tape’s best tracks, where he sings lines like: “You never thought that I would ever go this far/You said potential could never last this long” and “Well, you can take another shot every time you hear me playin’ in the club.” Led along by Tesfaye’s delivery that’s somehow simultaneously cocksure and forlorn, the track plays like a prequel of sorts to Drake’s “Marvin’s Room,” though most of its emotional impact is undermined by a half-baked guest skit from Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J, which ends up having the same effect as Chris Rock’s imbecilic feature spot at the end of Yeezy’s heart-rending “Blame Game” on last year’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. ...full text
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