So The Weeknd’s new album, Kiss Land, scheduled for its debut on September 10th was leaked a week early and has been consuming my auditory attention for the last 48 hours. For a while Iconic strayed from music reviews with the risk of sounding pretentious in mind, but as a sadistically crazed fan since the 2011 release of the House of Balloons mixtape I’ve fallen in love with the man behind the name, Abel Tesfaye. I’ve finally built up enough confidence in my alternative R&B knowledge, so here it goes…
The album has suggestive stints of his major idols like The-Dream and Michael Jackson while pulling featured samples from Portishead, Silky Johnson, and others. Overall, Kiss Land is a frighteningly romanticized version of what Tesfaye has revealed to us through his previous mixtapes. Don’t worry; he still maintains the eerie sexiness he’s known for. He describes Kiss Land as an inspiration from filmmakers like John Carpenter and David Cronenberg and calls it “an environment that’s just honest fear… like a horror movie.” As an artist who originally gained our attention by referencing his recreational use of drugs, heartless outlook on relationships, and demoralizing mindset on life in general, this album proves he is determined to morph into something of deeper and darker substance.
I would never want to assume this album was meant to tell a story, but the tracklist order does seem to effortlessly unfold a tormented love he constantly strains to hold on to. The first track of the album, “Professional”, vaguely talks about the lonely life of a girl settled on becoming successful against her awful odds while developing a content, yet detached relationship with Tesfaye (a recurring theme of his). It has a strange, slow intro leading into a slightly awkward chorus. “The Town” follows as a timeless tune about coming back to the girl he left behind on tour. He’ll send chills down the small of your back when he delicately trills, “Honey, please”. The next couple tracks (“Adaptation”, “Love In The Sky”) are sweeter ballads about his experiences of struggling with, yearning for, and loving the habitual, feminine muse of Kiss Land. “Belong To The World” was the second single released in mid-July of this year. It caused quite a stir over the dismay received from Portishead for sampling their song “Machine Gun”. Despite this controversy, the song has a hauntingly morose mood that’s soothing to the ears. Next up is one of my faves “Live For”, a collaborative track that highlights none other then… Drake. That’s right; they once synced up as a dynamic duo, bitterly split when Tesfaye decided not to sign with Drizzy’s label OVO, and now they’re reconciling their differences and teaming up again. It’s a classic, raunchy track about going hard in a club with their ladies and their XO. “Wanderlust”, a trance-dance hit with an MJ influenced rhythm, is the most out-of-character song on the album. The beat wasn’t really my style, but my roommate surely took pleasure in getting funky around our house to it. Pharrell does a remix of the song towards the end of the album with a mellower vibe that I truly enjoyed. The main focus and first single off the album, “Kiss Land”, is a beautifully sinful piece. Beginning with acute screams that will make you believe this is our modern-day “Thriller”, The Weeknd’s dirty mouth will without a doubt turn you on. “Pretty” and “Tears In The Rain” tie the album up nicely with a sensual vibe and traditional end. Lastly, Kiss Land finishes with a Kavinsky remix called “Odd Look” that leaves listeners on an extremely upbeat note (unlike any of his previous releases).
This is an album you want to listen to. This is an album you want to have sex to. Despite the revamp from totally inappropriate to mildly inappropriate, The Weeknd sustains his ability to creep you out and get you off simultaneously. His contemporary take on R&B has always been a musical refreshment, crushing any other artists in the stylistic, hipster genre. I would never advise anyone to partake in illegal downloading, however I can say that it will be worth it. For all you other goodie-goods out there, The Weeknd’s Kiss Land officially drops Tuesday, September 10. Pre-order on Itunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/kiss-land/id689682898) now!