The Weeknd Returns to His Dark Side on 'My Dear Melancholy,' EP
BY MAYA GEORGI
Once again, The Weeknd is back with new music that sounds a lot like his old stuff, and by popular demand. While his last studio album, Starboy, matched his successful harnessing of the R&B/pop scene with shiny production and pop infusions, his new EP My Dear Melancholy, brings us back inside the dark depths of Abel Tesfaye’s mind, especially when it comes to love.
Released just this past Friday, March 30th, My Dear Melancholy, has already reached fans' hearts by charting as #1 on iTunes Top 10 Albums and having all six songs in the Top 10 most streamed songs on Spotify. It is no surprise that The Weeknd is able to make such an impact with his songs in a short amount of time. He has been in the game of R&B music since 2010, charming fans with drug-infused ballads reeking of honesty and lust. Following musical and personal transformations, The Weeknd, or rather Abel Tesfaye (his real name) is dominating the genre right now. Even with this newfound fame of just a few years ago and superstar status, My Dear Melancholy, evokes memories of The Weeknd's Trilogy days, all the while adding touches of sophisticated production and artistry.
In his new EP, The Weeknd captures the elusive nature of love, sonically. The most popular song "Call Out My Name" is perhaps the slowest of all the six tracks released. Cinematic, yet slow pianos ring back to his older songs like "The Knowing," relaying the heartbreak he is experiencing, and the dark place he has succumbed back into emotionally. The signature R&B snare follows the same waltzy pace, stinging the heartstrings a bit more each time. Even though The Weeknd is reverting back to some of his old ways, a bit of muted synth sounds are littered throughout to show The Weeknd's lessons in production, especially from French producer Gessaffelstein. Gessaffelstein's genius electronic touches are further pronounced in the fourth track "I Was Never There" and the fifth track "Hurt You."
As a compliment to the Weeknd's clearly troubled emotional state and the forlorn sound he often reverts to during these states, the electronic 80's-like loops appear perfectly fuzzy and distant enough that they seem to just blend in. Paired with The Weeknd's iconic ability to easily slide into a stunning falsetto, the 80's vibe sometimes comes across as a modern Michael Jackson-esque touch. The masterpiece of a song that is "Wasted Times" is the track which best resembles Trilogy and the many demos before this first album. Dripping tones perfectly combine to create a ballad, appropriate for the apathetic, escapist nature of the song.
Lyrically, Abel is more than just melancholy; he appears depressed. Nearly all of the songs seem to not only denounce love, but attack a clearly callous ex-lover. From the title itself, listeners get the sense that the entire EP is addressed to a specific person or persons, not just a feeling. Speculation would seem to frame the culprit as Abel's ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez, who he recently dated for ten months. Many lyrics hint at that possibility, calling out Gomez and the way she ran back to ex-boyfriend, Justin Bieber, shortly after breaking up with The Weeknd. Even so, the lyrics are sharp and drenched in heartbreak.
One of the most notable, stinging lines is one seemingly aimed at two exes, Bella Hadid and Selena Gomez: "Wasted times on someone else / She wasn't even half of you." The Weeknd sings with undeniable regret in his voice. The most troubling and dark lyrics have nothing to do with love, lust, or his past relationships. Instead, they deal with old issues The Weeknd used to write about. "I Was Never There" opens with a bleak third person narration: "What makes a grown man wanna cry? / What makes him wanna take his life? / His happiness is never real / And mindless sex is all he feels." The Weeknd's honesty through his lyrics is noteworthy, but definitely worrisome.
Unfortunately, as a result of his breakups, The Weeknd is reverting back to detrimental tendencies and harmful habits. In "Privilege" the hook haunts the melody with the drug-laden line: "I got two red pills to take the blues away." Drugs are not a new topic in The Weeknd's music and neither is his delve into them as an escape from emotions and meaningful relationships. But these components were definitely less present in Starboy, again evoking a sense that The Weeknd is revisiting his older sound and themes.
Even though the EP is just a sliver of new music, it is just enough to hold fans over for a bit while The Weeknd gathers even more of his pain, and transposes it into addicting verses and beats. Hopefully, fans will get a full length album of this passionate moment in his artistry. If we don't, it's worth noting that My Dear Melancholy, stands as a compelling result of The Weeknd being able to impressively use his heartbreak and depression as inspiration for some great music.
Lead Image Credit: The Weeknd / Instagram