‘After Hours’ shines as The Weeknd’s best album


Illustration by Marissa Haas.

After releasing three singles in the past few months, The Weeknd released his fourth studio album, “After Hours,” on March 20. In it, The Weeknd returns to his roots while improving his artistic abilities, making it his strongest entry yet.

The Weeknd seems to have perfected his craft on “After Hours.” While his previous albums stuck to a principle style throughout, this album incorporates the full spectrum of The Weeknd’s capabilities. It is a mixture of every component of his music from the emotions the songs convey to the musical structure itself.

While the topics The Weeknd sings are similar to his previous music, he provides more range of emotion in one album than ever before. Tracks like “After Hours” and “Alone Again” bring back the familiar melancholy spirit of his music, while tracks like “Heartless” convey a more aggressive and boastful tone. 

The album is heavily inspired by ‘80s pop, with The Weeknd’s vocal performances reminiscent of the king of pop himself, Michael Jackson. While the sounds may be inspired by music from forty years ago, The Weeknd makes it sound as fresh as ever.

“Blinding Lights,” the top song in the country as of March 30, 2020, features an 80s synthesizer in its melody. “In Your Eyes” follows the track with a similar disco sound and unexpectedly adds a sax solo, making it one of the most unforgettable songs on the album.

Even with its heavy pop appeal, “After Hours” is as introspective and vulnerable as The Weeknd has ever been. “Scared to Live” and “Hardest to Love” are raw and emotional messages about a past relationship that has not settled well with him.

Although he once sang, “Cali is the mission,” he opened  up about how stardom is not everything he pictured it would be on the track, “Escape from LA.” On “Snowchild,” he reflects on his rise to fame and desire to return to his hometown, Toronto.

He also talks about his substance abuse during “Faith,” a common topic in his songs. However, “Faith” presents the issue more seriously than usual.

From appearing as the mysterious figure of “House of Balloons” to the pop superstar of “Starboy,” The Weeknd’s artistry extends beyond his music. The attention to detail on “After Hours” is no different.

In the album artwork and live appearances, The Weeknd sports a red blazer and vintage sunglasses with a bloody and bandaged nose. The sepia-toned pictures and music videos taken on the Las Vegas Strip create a fitting visual representation of the album’s ‘80s influence and his high-roller persona.

This intricate level of detail makes the album stand out among other mainstream pop albums. The Weeknd makes sure to stamp his artistry on every aspect of “After Hours,” allowing fans to truly connect to the album.

Many artists fail to retain creativity and originality in their careers, but The Weeknd has retained and improved both. He has found a way to balance his original sounds while developing new ones that keep his music innovative. “After Hours” proves that The Weeknd is one of this generation’s most talented and artistic musicians.