First Impressions: After Hours by The Weeknd

A picture of The Weeknd's album cover, After Hours, which shows a closeup of him with blood-stained teeth and blood running down his face.

The Weeknd’s back! I just had to get this out and talk about the album as soon as possible. While not a full on review, “first impressions” will be a segment I do that’s less polished, less researched, and much faster to post. So any inaccuracies or dumb shit thoughts are the result of this approach.

Let’s get to it!

Overall thoughts: Over the course of his career, The Weeknd has both developed a signature sound, while also growing and evolving it with each album. He’s lowkey my favorite pop artist of this generation. I feel his pain as though it were my own. I see his bragging about cars and sex as a mask, as a cry for help. Getting high and sleeping with some girl he doesn’t care about has been his shtick from the beginning, and yet, The Weeknd pulls it off because he contrasts it with the awareness that he knows it’s not enough for him. He’s back at it with an 80s-esque, synthwave, retro pop album that hits like a truck in your feelings. I love the sounds, the atmosphere, the beats, but also the themes: loneliness, fame, emptiness, regret, sadness.

That being said, the same themes have persisted across all of his albums, and while I do enjoy them, it would benefit him to explore some new topics. And while I do love the 80’s style of the whole album, a little bit of diversity could have gone a long way. There were other styles in the 80’s besides just synthwave, as much as I love it. Even an entire album of synthwave can feel a little monotonous when some of the tracks seem to have the same BPM and similar melodies. It doesn’t feel too repetitive to me after one listen, but I’m curious how future listens will treat it. Love the vibe, but it could have used a little more depth or diversity.

Activities while listening: making coffee, zoning out on the couch, setting up remote desktop, zoning out at the kitchen table.

Favorite track: So many strong contenders on this album just on a first listen. Songs, like “Too Late”, “Blinding Lights”, “In Your Eyes”, “Until I Bleed Out”, okay probably most of the album is strong. My knee-jerk reaction for favorite is “Faith”. We’ll see if that changes for future listens.

Least favorite track: “Snowchild”.

Grade based on my arbitrary rubric that’s entirely subjective and mostly based on my feelings: 94/100 A

While partly arbitrary because I “go with my gut”, my general rules are that S-rated albums or songs are perfect and could not be improved upon; “A” grades are fantastic and nearly perfect, with just some minor, nitpicky problems; “B” grades show a lot of promise and good material, but have a few subpar or unpleasant elements; “C” is the opposite of B, in that it has a few good bits, but it is mostly subpar or unpleasant; “D” means you barely tried; “F” means the F were you thinking.

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