By Michael Love Editor, 22 West Video
The Weeknd returned to his roots and paid homage to his early work in the creation of “My Dear Melancholy.” As a 22-minute project, it’s a stark contrast to “Starboy” in its production style as well as its subject matter.
While “Starboy” was a large project with several featured artists that felt like a showcase of Abel Tesfaye’s ability, his new project was a dark and fleeting expression of pain. Additionally, the lack of features serves to make the album much more intimate.
The only feature on the album comes from the artist Gesaffelstein, an electronic artist whose synths and fuzzy echoes help to accentuate Tesfaye’s pain. While the album feels like it has a one-track mind, this tunnel vision only helps to express the emotions and the claustrophobia felt when going through heartbreak.
“My Dear Melancholy” is a gripping piece of work that reminds its listeners that R&B can often be dark, edgy and sexy. Tesfaye throws down lyrics like “What makes a grown man want to cry?/ what makes him want to take his life?” to “I ain’t got no business catching feelings” and finally, on the last verse on “Privilege:” “And I’ma fuck the pain away, and I know I’ll be okay … But I’ma drink the pain away, I’ll be back to my old ways.” With these lines, Tesfaye takes us for a ride on the emotional roller coaster that is heartbreak.
In the outro track, “Privilege,” he utilizes wordplay and references the film “The Matrix” with his line, “And I got two red pills to take the blues away.” This lyric is a direct reference to his past drug use and seems to foreshadow the type of content he will be producing in the future.
While the pop and R&B days of The Weeknd gave birth to an amazing album “Starboy,” this breakup seems to have called the singer back to his roots, back to the dark and soothing days of “Trilogy.”