The Weeknd are the latest musical phenomena take listeners’ speakers by storm. Still relatively unknown, the Weeknd — no, that’s not a typo — have recently exploded onto the scene with their first self-released album, “House of Balloons.”
With an R&B sound similar to Frank Ocean with dubby influences, The Weeknd have certainly found their sound. This has not gone unnoticed as Drake has cosigned The Weeknd and the Dream has lent his production skills.
2011 has been a big year for the underground music scene. Due almost entirely to the Internet and social networking, unknown groups like The Weeknd have been rocketed into the public eye after an unstoppable amount of buzz.
The album “House of Balloons,” available for free, does not stray from this two-step r&b formula, and there is absolutely no need. As a house music fan, it is nice to have a change of pace every once in a while.
The opening track “High For This” tells you everything you need to know about The Weeknd and the rest of the album. The druggy atmosphere of the music and the graphic lyrics combined with the smoothness of the rhythms creates a confusing work of art that is both sickening and mesmerizing at the same time.
Songs like “What You Need” and “Glass Table Girls” continue to build on this dark theme, taking the listeners deeper and deeper into the abyss.
One of the album highlights, “Wicked Games,” continues the plunge into darkness. “Bring the drugs, baby, I can bring the pain” and “Tell me you love me, just for tonight” are indicative of both the improbable heartbreak and the addiction to vice that led to the creation of this album.
A far cry from the love songs of Drake, Ne-Yo and countless others, The Weeknd stands out as something different. The difference is instead of songs about love and yearning for the love of another, it shows life after love — plagued with anger and sorrow.
Although the content is farfetched and its credibility is questionable, none of that matters because the album is so damn good it’s hard to turn off.
The album finishes even heavier then it started. The beats are slower, the lead rhythms are much simpler and the content is even grittier. Songs like “Coming Down” describe Abel Tesfaye’s post-party interest in his ex-girlfriend; “I always want you when I’m coming down”.
Despite the content, The Weeknd’s “House of Balloons” is one of the most impressive first-releases I have ever heard. The narcotic-driven peek into the twisted nightlife are entrancing, creating an album that in addition to being free, is also incredibly hard to stop listening to.
Reach reviewer Bobby Horton at Robert.Horton@usd.edu.