Opening track ‘Real Life‘ features subtle vocals from 25-year-old Abel Tesfaye (aka The Weeknd) with a backdrop of dramatic keys easing listeners into the 14 track album. ‘Losers‘ follows, with a beautiful intro, taking a slower pace before exploding into an upbeat chorus. The track is a clear highlight with its unexpected brass instrumentation making it come alive.
‘Tell Your Friends‘ features a similar narration to the first two tracks with a dark look into relationships and drugs, and the Canadian’s sedate vocals help to create some eerie imagery. Produced by outspoken rapper Kanye West, with lyrics that don’t reject that media persona (‘I’m that n**ga with the hair/singing ’bout popping pills, f**king b**ches, living life so trill’), he certainly had an influence; never being one to shy away from frank lyrics.
‘The Hills‘, which was released as a single in May, sees some dark production. The synths and hypnotic vocals help juxtapose the grim reality of relationships with The Weeknd’s emotional side in tracks ‘Acquainted‘ and ‘As You Are‘. Both tracks are tender love songs that feel somewhat misplaced and stand out a little too jarringly.
Worldwide summer hit ‘Can’t Feel My Face‘ is a disco inspired track co-written by Max Martin with catchy hooks and an upbeat melody. The groovy beat against the a stark lyrical story of drug use is another example of contrast, but it’s a classic tune with an edge of Michael Jackson.
The Weeknd demanded more attention earlier this year with ‘Earned It‘ being featured on ’50 Shades of Grey’. The angelic tones against an orchestral backdrop have no doubt propelled him to a wider audience.
‘Beauty Behind The Madness’ pushes the boundaries in music, experimenting and mixing genres, so much so that the themes of sex, drugs and love are overlooked. It’s a great listen from beginning to end even in spite of a couple of less than brilliant tracks interrupting the flow. Nevertheless it showcases the talent of this very unique artist and will no doubt up his fanbase, which he rightly deserves.
Graduate Multimedia Journalist, Online Editor at CIO UK and contributing writer at Culturefly and Contact Music.