The Weeknd’s dark ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ album shines


The Weeknd’s new album “Beauty Behind the Madness” dropped Aug. 28. It has topped the charts and, as of yesterday, sold 326,000 copies.

Michael Ossorguine, Staff Reporter

The rumors aren’t true. The Weeknd’s new album “The Beauty Behind the Madness” is not an album pandering to the pop-loving masses. It is a continuation of Abel Tesfaye’s dark and mysterious portrayal of his perpetually drug-addled and morally empty lifestyle. His rise to fame has produced singles and stand-out tracks but his enigmatic lyrics coupled with his undeniably pure and dynamic singing voice have only evolved over the slick, clean, vast and sexy production that permeates this record.

This album is not a masterpiece but its pop appeal is undeniable. There is little more intriguing than a talented yet reclusive artist’s rise to fame despite his self-admitted camera shyness. The best tracks on this album are well structured: Tesfaye has never relied on hooks but the cold emotion (or lack thereof) that his ethereal voice can bring to his beats creates his own unique and very fitting style. This album is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy that style, it is worth several listens.

Take “Acquainted,” nothing more than a song about a romantic relationship between The Weeknd and another girl. This common theme is not stale for the alternative R&B artist. The song is catchy, the beat psychedelic and rich with reverb effects over atmospheric drums and synths. Tesfaye’s voice effortlessly glides through several different tunes.

“To say that we’re in love is dangerous but girl I’m so glad we’re acquainted,” Tesfaye says in the song. His nonchalant attitude toward relationships is strangely captivating.

The Weeknd works very well with his collaborators on this record, which include Lana Del Rey, Kanye West and even Ed Sheeran. On “Losers,” which features Labrinth, both artists’ unique voices are heard clearly over the lush piano chords and surging bass drops and the song ends with a striking horn section so dour one could imagine it being played by a troupe of skeletons.

On “Prisoner,” The Weeknd and Lana Del Rey work with natural chemistry to sing about the consequences of their decisions and their newfound fame. It is, simply put, a great song.

The mood of this album, as it was with the three-part 2012 release “Trilogy,” is palpable. Abel Tesfaye’s world of addiction and lonely luxury, void of meaningful relationships shines through and it can be depressing. His aesthetic is like no other artist, and his huge cult following proves that his vision and voice has an audience.

There are a few songs on this record, however, that fall flat. The hit song, “Earned It,” from the “50 Shades of Grey” soundtrack is a prime example. Aside from the scratchy and uninteresting mixing, Tesfaye’s voice is often unintelligible. The shallowness of his lyrics is not made up for in intrigue, catchiness, or any other redeeming factor that that The Weeknd employs on better tracks. This song and a few other very forgettable ones make for a few low points on this 65-minute record.

This release is a powerful entrance into the mainstream for The Weeknd.