By Kenneth Edison, Editor-in-Chief
Follow him at @krazo1
Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, has made an entire career with his unique brand of dark, moody R&B, and his latest EP ‘My Dear Melancholy’ might be his darkest material yet. Sadly, that doesn’t exactly make it his best or even particularly good.
Released after being revealed just three days prior to its March 30th, ‘My Dear Melancholy’ is The Weeknd’s first EP and came as a relatively quick turn around from his 2017 commercial hit ‘Starboy.’ While that album was not perfect, it certainly showed more color and energy then we are getting on ‘My Dear Melancholy.’
This six track cut focuses on a darker and more troubled side of Tesfaye with each song touching on nasty parts of past relationships. While Tesfaye’s vocal performances and lyrics are solid for the most part, the same cannot be said for the awkward production.
Beginning with the dreary opener ‘Call Out My Name,’ the project hits its highest point early. This track has lyrics reminiscing about the recent end of a less than healthy relationship over a dark and longing melody that plays perfectly to the tone of Tesfaye’s voice and what it seems like is the tone of the entire project.
However, in later tracks the dissonance between what we are hearing from the production and from Tesfaye himself grows larger and larger. Tracks like ‘I Was Never There’ and ‘Hurt You’ are the worst culprits as the mismatch between vocals and production nears being comical.
Both tracks are produced by French techno DJ Gesaffelstein who also gets a feature credit in both songs. His performance seems like one that both he and Tesfaye would rather forget as Tesfaye’s lyrics about heartbreak and suicidal thoughts are paired with beats that sound like samples from goofy 90s club hits.
The latter of the two tracks also is a bit troubling considering some of the lyrics which include Tesfaye mulling over his inability to not have sex with a past lover, despite said ex having suicidal thoughts during the relationship. Even more troubling is the fan speculation that this entire mixtape is based on Tesfaye’s previous relationship with Selena Gomez, and thinking about the former Disney star in a twisted relationship where she contemplated self-harm is a weird juxtaposition.
The EP manages to end on a high note with the track ‘Privilege,’ where Tesfaye wisely underwrites this hugely emotional track, instead letting the tone of his great vocal performance portray the melancholy that his words cannot.
It’s puzzling to think of what rationale Tesfaye had for releasing this tape. It’s possible it could have been his urge to produce content about a fairly recent or especially traumatic event in his life, or perhaps he feels he can do no wrong in the studio at this point.
Either way, the Canadian R&B star has a legion of fans who will absolutely devour any piece of music he releases, regardless of its content. Maybe having that level of fame will, in time, inspire Tesfaye to put time toward putting together more cohesive and well processed tracks, rather than the jumbled collection we got here.