“You can find love, fear, friends, enemies, violence, dancing, sex, demons, angels, loneliness, and togetherness all in the After Hours of the night.” —The Weeknd
Starts with a very strong narrative of pretending and living someone else’s life, a suppression of identity. In the first 3 songs we very quickly start to enter into the mind of a dark depressed entity. Sonically, solid moods and tones are created to make it easy for the listener to enter his world, a very dark place.
The character he paints is very empty selfish and unapologetic, almost based on the joker. He’s heartless and has lost his human emotion and feeling. A very despondent soul, needs love, needs God and needs the light. After the first 3 songs the album is very solid but gloomy, it sets the stage.
“Scared To Live” is probably the strongest vocal performance on the album, a ballad in contrast to a lot of dance sounds so far. Narratively there seems to be a reemergence of hope, he starts to show some guilt for his ways as he encourages the woman he admittedly damaged to love again.
He’s dealing with a lot of low vibration emotions but he sings them so beautifully, melodically and harmoniously. Suicidal thoughts and despair starts to emerge but the listener can’t help but enjoy the pure truth ‘The Weeknd’ is offering.
Snow child starts speaking to the street, at this stage he’s an artist that knows his audience well. He flips from the streets, middle class to upper echelon so easily. He understands that beneath it all we are all bound by the same emotions that make us human.
In “Escape from LA” you start to understand why Abel Tesfaye is one of the masters of the new age. He begins to build a theme in which his current location is bringing out the worst in him, he keeps himself in an environment that feeds into the dark parts of his soul. Dealing with a cold hearted sexual female, he’s fighting for his soul and beginning to think LA is not the place for him.
He brings you vividly into his world at the halfway stage of the album. “Heartless” is a standout track even on this solid collection of songs so far. It’s an admittance to the character he’s been painting, a full on confession. In the visual version of Heartless he relocates to vegas where he feels he is free from judgement. Further in the album on “Blinding lights” he gloriously sings “Sin city is cold and empty no one is around to judge me”.
So far the mood of the album matches Its title “After Hours”. He conveys deeds and thoughts that only occur after hours in the cover of darkness. However it’s these very dark places that are causing him to lose his “Faith” reintroducing him to hard drugs. You start to feel an emptiness and hopeless once again in the album.
The album is thus far very well synchronised, the themes run into each other nicely. For instance he ends up in the back of a cop car after a drug fuelled binge in “Faith” which brings you seamlessly into ‘blinding lights’.
The last 2 songs of the album takes us into a more spiritual place. The album title song “After Hours” has layers, on a deep level he’s bound in a spirit marriage with an otherworldly entity. In order to be close to it he takes drugs or goes to sleep to dream about it. It’s a toxic spirit which seems to be fuelling his lifestyle. This is the same entity shown in the video of blinded lights. He ends the album with “Until I Bleed Out” suggesting he wants out of this spiritual bondage and imprisonment. He wants out of the deal because it’s killing him yet he finds himself craving for it, a relationship of toxicity. He’s bound.
“After Hours” is an exemplary piece of narrative genius covering in-depth emotions and feelings. The weekend takes us into the dark corners of his mind and reveals his truth. By the time the album finishes you can’t help but feel like you’ve been in another persons life (world). You feel like you know this drug indulged thrill seeking apathetic rich sadist.
It has a good mix of uptempo club joints with ballads. It deals with scandalous characters, broken relationships (In Your Eyes) and affairs (Escape from LA). The Weeknd is caught up in a toxic cycle he needs to break out of and the women he associates with prove misery loves company. After Hours is Filled with depth of emotion, he didn’t divert from the character. He explores the state of apathy in an in-depth way, making you understand his character.
Written by Kwasi Addo