The Weeknd“After Hours”
The Weeknd’s epochs can be clearly defined as pre- and post-“Can’t Feel My Face.” The mysterious character of his mixtape trilogy cut an enigmatic figure lurking seedy club and hotel corridors, and producer Max Martin transformed him into a radio-friendly Kids’ Choice Award nominee, a progression that led to an eventual rebirth as a Daft Punk-retrofitted Starboy. He straddled the line on his last EP, My Dear Melancholy, but there has always been an explicit conflict between the volatile, shapeless R&B of his breakthrough and the sophisti-pop of his star turn.
Co-produced by the Weeknd, Trilogy mastermind Illangelo, frequent collaborator DeHeala, and singer-songwriter Mario Winans
The Weeknd did it Martin’s way on the upbeat, incandescent “Blinding Lights,” an obvious contender for Top 40 radio charts. Now he’s reverting back to old habits for “After Hours,” the title track from his upcoming album. Well, sort of—while the track is moody, long, and somewhat restless, it is never as spellbinding as his old work nor as advanced as his newer material. Co-produced by the Weeknd, Trilogy mastermind Illangelo, frequent collaborator DeHeala, and singer-songwriter Mario Winans, the song opens with his old signature style—falsetto, echoes, and recurrent tones—until suddenly it erupts into dance production. “I turned into the man I used to be,” he sings, but the transformation is incomplete, and he seems stuck halfway.
While the song’s dark atmospherics are reminiscent of the Weeknd’s early music, there is a noticeable thematic shift: “After Hours” is an apology for who he was and a vow to change. It is a remorseful pivot away from unapologetic hedonism. “I was running away from facin’ reality/Wastin’ all of my time on living my fantasies,” he sings. This is the Weeknd at his most repentant and cliche, willing to give it all up just to hold her close. The irony is that the man he’s apologizing for is the same emotionally abusive low-life featured on the album’s lead single, “Heartless.” It seems these shifts in the Weeknd’s mood are as inevitable as the phases of the moon he prowls under.
Originally published on 18th May 2020, you can read the original article at Pitchfork © 2020