So, here it is. Beauty Behind The Madness (what an awesome album title!) is The Weeknd’s (Abel Tesfaye with real name) newest studio album. After dipping in the pop world a bit more with the Ariana Grande collaboration “Love Me Harder” and being on the Fifty Shades Of Grey soundtrack with “Earned It”, The Weeknd teamed up with Pop producer Max Martin for Can’t Feel My Face. You’ve probably heard of it by now as it’s pretty much a hit all over the world, and not undeservingly! The song is one of the best pop songs of the year. Therefore my expectations were quite high for this album. So, here’s my review of the album including a few words to each track!
- Real Life 7/10 ; Real Life starts with heavy guitars but there’s string play during the verses. The production feels quite unique, having electric guitars, strings, slow percussion in the song. The Weeknd sings about not being able to make the right choices in life. It’s a rather sad song actually, and it’s a good start for this album.
- Losers 7/10 ; The Collaboration with Labirinth is a jazzy track, starting out with a nice piano and it actually includes almost an entire brass orchestra at the very end. “Only losers go to school, They can’t teach what they can’t prove, Come put this inside a test-tube, Because stupid’s next to “I love you” Losers is really good, but the fact that it sounds like a copy of Pharell’s Freedom is kind of deterrend, even if it’s not intentional. Stuff like that happens in the music world, but I really can’t get over how similar they sound. Unless they both sampled the same song or something i don’t know of. But at the end of the day, the song is still quite good!
- Tell Your Friends 4/10 ; Tell Your Friends is a RnB driven song with a rather light production, using just a set of drums, a piano and some type of saxophone and an electric guitar during the second half of the song. The song is just kind of there though, definitely not one of the better songs of the album. The Weeknd also curses on like every second word and it’s incredibly unnecessary if I’m being honest, it really does not add anything. At least his vocals are amazing!
- The Hills 7/10 ; Another really good song. It’s a synth driven RnB/Pop song with a lot of rythmic influences. The Hills is a typical The Weeknd song, but in a good way. His ability to create something this hypnotic is really impressive.
- Acquainted; 7/10; Acquainted is more of a ballad, a love song, even though it doesn’t sound like it at a first impression. The song is about the moment when you start falling in love with someone but it’s still too early to call it a relationship. “To say that we’re in love is dangerous, But girl I’m so glad we’re acquainted”
- Can’t Feel My Face 10/10; Ah, there it is. The super mega smash produced by the one and only Max Martin. Can’t Feel My Face is another synth driven song on his album, however unlike any of the other songs on the album the production is mixed with a real good funk in it. It’s a fantastic pop song, comparable to Michael Jackson type of music at his peak. On the first impression of the song you will think it’s about a dangerous relationship. A relationship, where both partners are dependent on each other. “We both know whe can’t go without it, she told me you’ll never be alone” But then on the chorus it gets kind of confusing. “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you, but i love it” This doesn’t sound like a relationship to me. A different way I would interpret this song is that it’s in fact about his relationship with drugs, which would not be surprising since The Weeknd uses drug references in almost every of his songs. This would explain some of the lyrics in the verses aswell like “And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb”. However, i do feel like there’s definitely room for different interpretations. Either way, Can’t Feel My Face is one of the best pop songs of the year.
- Shameless 8/10 ; Wow, what a turn! Shameless is a 360 from what has been on this album up until this point. The song is more of an acoustic song. Even though the song still has quite a lot of production, the main element is the guitar in the background. Abel’s vocals sound amazing on this track, especially because this acoustic sound brings a different feel to his voice. In the last minute of the song there’s actually a guitar riff which is definitely interesting.
- Earned It 6/10 ; Earned It was included in the soundtrack of Fifty Shades Of Grey. It’s a RnB track with lots of strings and some piano thrown in there and there. With that double sided meaning of the song I’m really not that big of a fan of the lyrics though. The song basically suggests “I can do anything with you because you’re hot”. But maybe that’s just me.
- In The Night 8/10; This one is surprisingly upbeat. In The Night is more Pop than most songs on the album, minus Can’t Feel My Face. The track is actually about the life of a stripper “In the night she hears him calling
In the night she’s dancing to relieve the pain, She’ll never walk away (I don’t think you understand)”Even so, the song is one of the best on the album. Again, he reminds me of Michael Jackson on this song.
- As You Are 7/10; As You Are is surprisingly soft for The Weeknd. It’s basically a love song with some twists here and there. “Yeah, show me your broken heart and all your scars, Baby I’ll take, I’ll take, I’ll take, I’ll take you as you are”
- Dark Times (feat. Ed Sheeran) 5/10 ; The collaboration with Ed Sheeran goes more in a RnB/Soul direction and it’s sort of bluesy aswell. The song is good, but the collaboration feels kind of odd. The two artists are too different and it just doesn’t mix well together.
- Prisoner (feat. Lana Del Rey) 7/10 ; Unlike the Sheeran collab, this one is known territory for both singers. You can definitely hear the influences of both artists in this song. Prisoner is not bad at all, but it’s not a stand out either.
For me, the album is a bit disappointing. That is probably because his music just generally isn’t my cup of tea. Every single song about this album is either about sex or drugs, be it in an obvious or in a more subtle way. This is what The Weeknd is and has been all about in his music career though. For me personally it just goes overboard a bit, although I can definitely see how this is The Weeknd’s style and if someone can pull it off it’s him! What I really appreciate about the album is the numerous elements they have used in the production. Even though the album is definitely coherent and a lot of songs sound similar, they still pulled off some amazing and unique combinations.
Standout tracks on this album are Can’t Feel My Face, Shameless and In The Night. I would rate this album a decent 6.5/10.