Opening with a killer rendition of “Dirty Diana”, The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye
aimed to show doubters he’s got the vocal talent to make you quiver and pay
attention. The drum heavy intro grabs your ears and slams your head back and
forth to the beat insuring you feel every bass thump it has to offer.
Continuing with a Phil Collins-style drumbeat, “Montreal” uses the familiar distant echo of
Tesfaye’s voice to lead into his first verse. It ends in him longing in French.
Finally, some more of The Weeknd’s familiarity slides in
with the slow-pace tempo and thumping bass as background sounds and droning vocals
drift through the speakers. Tesfaye’s vocals are reminiscent of the group’s
previous releases, but placed over new beats they remain fresh and addictive.
It’s only been a few months since they started releasing albums, but this track
makes listeners remember the first time they heard The Weeknd and why they keep
coming back. “Outside” begins with quiet plinks that linger throughout the
song. Then the drums pick up while Tesfaye urges a girl to forget what she
knows about her past lover. “XO / The Host” ruptures
the slow pulsing of “Outside” with a multitude of choppy sounds followed by
chipmunk like squeaks that almost seem out of place in the bumping bass, but
help add to the song’s overall thoughtful emotive strings that guide listeners
through the song. However, at a running time of 7:24 the song becomes a little
boring until the bass drops out for a spacey in and out synth. The following
track is one of the album’s only pre-released tracks, “Initiation.” Tesfaye’s
shift between high and low pitch help add to the haunting feel the track
creates. You almost want to look over your shoulder as his voice continues to
eke out over the aggressive and angry beats. The deep distorted guitar that
opens “Same Old Song” then delves into a moaning combination of complaints and
“The Fall” opens with an industrial-like clinking and
clanking and the hisses that create the feeling of being in a factory as
Tesfaye’s trademark vocals start to sound off. A stadium-like clap begins
applauding the singer as he chants, “It feels so good, I ain’t scared of the
If other songs are taunting or celebrating then “Next” is
Tesfaye’s late night explanation of a woman’s desire when she can’t accept why she chases after a 21-year-old she thinks she
has power over. This slow song leads to the title track is a perfect
“Echoes of Silence” is the coup de grace of this free download.
Tesfaye seems to be pressing his lips up against the speakers talking right
into your ear. It’s almost too intimate, but it captures
the essence of title track so perfectly and hauntingly I can’t imagine the
album ending any other way. As the piano plays in the background and Tesfaye
begs for one person, just one person to stay with him, I, too, feel the desire
and remorseful longing of a man sitting alone in his room.
If anything brings the album down it’s the length of some of
the songs. I don’t know if it was my desire to hear the next song, or if it is
just the length, but I think they could have been shortened. The Weeknd
maintains some of the sounds fans know and love while evolving and establishing
Tesfaye as a powerful vocalist who can tackle a mic like the best. While some of
the beats seem recycled from Thursday or House of Balloons they still sound
good and don’t detract from the songs. What lingers as a bad taste though is
the subject matter of drugs and sex. Thoroughly covered in the previous two
releases only a little bit of new flavor is thrown into this mix.
of Silence,” “Dirty Diana” BRYCE POHLMEYER