The Weeknd Thursday

The Weeknd Thursday
If Abel Tesfaye is feeling the pressure, he's not saying. As the Weeknd, the notoriously enigmatic and media-shy alt-R&B act, he's owned summer with the initial House of Balloons mixtape, which had everyone scrambling to tell their best "I heard it first" tall tales. The Weeknd is still unsigned, but that isn't for lack of the majors falling all over themselves to get Tesfaye's autograph, especially after the now legendary debut Toronto show he put on earlier this summer. But now the expectations run deep ― the underground buzz that's been carefully cultivated is cresting over the mainstream horizon and the new Thursday mixtape was obviously crafted with that in mind. As part of a trilogy, House of Balloons offered up an intriguing, inciting incident of sex- and drug-fuelled excess set to haunting vocals and production. Thursday stands as the second act, a "darkest before the dawn" oeuvre that uncovers an even deeper level of subterranean beats and plaintive lyrics. With the nine-track Thursday, the exercise in the experimental still holds. A melancholy narrative comes swaddled in tribal drum sounds in "The Birds Part One" ("Don't you fall in love/Don't make me make you fall in love with a nigga like me"), moves made under drugs of choice (codeine, MJ, ecstasy) are examined in joints like "The Zone" (featuring Drake) and "Rolling Stone," while "Heaven or Las Vegas" is dipped in damnable audacity ("I say, I have heaven/I say, I am God"). While ultimately not as satisfying as the first, if this three-act structure holds true, expect the third and final instalment to slavishly feature a climax and denouement with at least a nod to brightness and optimism. But one wouldn't put it past the Weeknd to swerve. (Independent)