The first minute of The Weeknd’s video for the single “Starboy” shows a masked figure sitting across a large table from The Weeknd, identifiable by his signature hair, who is bound to the chair with zip ties. The unknown persona slowly saunters over to The Weeknd and suffocates him with a plastic bag. As The Weeknd’s body lays on the floor, the mask comes off and we see a new version of The Weeknd as the killer. A new haircut and the destruction of his previous platinum albums ushers in the sound on The Weeknd’s third full length album, “Starboy.”
The title track is one of the best songs off of “Starboy.” It ultimately sets the vibe for the entire 18-track album. This revamped version of The Weeknd provides a laundry list of what has happened since his previous double-platinum album “Beauty Behind the Madness,” including but not limited to the purchases of: a red Lambourgini, a McLauren P1 and a Bentley Mulsanne. I honestly had to search for the meaning behind these lyrics because I am not the person to ask about luxury cars. On another note, if you’re interested in an occult analysis of the “Starboy” single, please consult this wonderful article.
The Weeknd implores us to “Look what you’ve done/I’m a motherfucking Starboy.” Through verses of cars, cocaine, women and all with a fantastically dark, Daft Punk produced synth layer, Ultimately, listeners have provided him with the wealth and fame he now shows off; we have created this alter ego of Starboy.
The second track is another single entitled “Party Monster.” More cocaine and several women later, a voice airly enters the party: Lana Del Ray. I absolutely love that she is on two of the tracks on this album. The dark, sultry sound, of Del Ray complements the same aspects in The Weeknd’s sound even though each approaches their music differently. Del Ray adds just enough of her quality to the songs that they become infinitely more interesting. Kendrick Lamar also makes an appearance in the track “Sidewalks,” another must listen. Lamar offers a stark contrast to the autotuned Weeknd. His verse never settles on one rhythm, which is quintessential Lemar. Future leads the chorus on the tracks “Six Feet Under” and “All I Know,” but is ultimately underutilized.
Let us now take a moment to recognize the omnipresent magic of Daft Punk. The top two tracks on this album are the opener and closer, both produced by the French electronic duo. “I Feel It Coming” is one part The Weeknd in true form and one part everything I love about Daft Punk. The lyrics are pure Weeknd, but the beat, an underlying dark bassline and the autotuned appearance of Daft Punk halfway through the track has all caused me to play this track on repeat for the last week. Daft Punk’s influence is made overt in the “Starboy” music video, as the camera focuses on a classic oil painting of the duo, complete with full black suits and a jet black panther. May Daft Punk look down upon us and The Weeknd forever. Amen.
The use of Daft Punk on The Weeknd’s newest album signal a definite change in tone for the artist. “Starboy” is more focused towards the pop/radio end of the spectrum, and has lost some of that dark R&B sound in earlier albums like “The Trilogy” and “Kissland.” It’s also a clear distinction from the instrumental aspect of the entirety of his previous album, “Beauty Behind the Madness.” The lyrics also lose a little flair as The Weeknd adjusts these new songs to fit a loose “radio-ready” definition, but there are still blatant drug and sex references. As well, the use of autotune and other digital devices don’t allow The Weeknd’s fantastic voice to be the highlight of the tracks.
Despite all of this, this album is a good blend of new and old. Every single track hits its mark with only a little faltering here and there (please skip “False Alarm”). Tracks like “Reminder” and “Secrets” provides the listener with The Weeknd that we have all come to know and love, while this new Starboy persona just wants to make us dance and maybe openly sing about “bumping a line.” 4 out of 5 stars.
Cover photo courtesy of Heavy.com