Photo via Pitchfork.com

4 stars

The Weeknd’s new album “After Hours” was released on March 30. The deluxe version of the album includes 22 songs, while the original includes 14 songs with a total run time of 56 minutes. This is The Weeknd’s fourth studio album since the start of his rise to fame.

Born in Ontario, Canada, the now 30-year-old singer began his career in 2010 at the age of 20, when he began freestyle rapping in collaboration with producer Jeremy Rose. His first album, titled “Kiss Land,” was released on Sept. 10, 2013, by Republic Records and XO, a record label in Canada founded by The Weeknd. Many of his songs on the first album centered around his troubled past and many serious issues that he continues to deal with today. Sensitive topics like drug addiction, depression and sexual violence are just a few of the things mentioned in his latest album release. Although saddening and sometimes X-rated, his music is always honest and often relatable. 

“Alone Again,” the first song in the album, is one of the slowest and my personal favorite. The Weeknd sings openly about his struggles with substance abuse in the past, and how he has recovered from an overdose. Synthesizers are used to give it an 80s throwback vibe that seems to be common throughout the album and makes it sound very techno. The Weeknd’s music fits in genre categories of rap, R&B, hip-hop and electronic.

“Heartless,” the seventh song on the album, was released before the initial album release date. Released to the public on Nov. 27, 2019, it quickly became a chart topper and had fans eager for the rest of the album. “Blinding Lights,” currently No. 2 on Spotify’s Top Hits, was the second song from the album that was also released on Nov. 27. Both of these songs are two of the most well-known on the album to date, and they include The Weeknd’s signature high notes, a techno instrumental sound and an energetic dance beat. 

In a heartfelt confession full of stories from his past, The Weeknd discusses old relationships and stories in “Save Your Tears.” His lyrics are honest and emotional, paying tribute to an ex and his feelings of not being good enough or able to be in the relationship. In his repeating lines, “Girl, take me back ‘cause I wanna stay / Save your tears for another day,” The Weeknd addresses a loved one who used to be a large part of his life while exposing us to the rawest parts of himself and his emotions towards that relationship. 

The cover of the album is jarring, but it fits well with the tell-all confessional style of “After Hours.” The artwork features The Weeknd smiling with his head tilted backward and his face covered in blood. This could be a tribute to his past overdoses or the struggles he has dealt with regarding violence and substance abuse. This, in combination with the title of the album and The Weeknd’s heartfelt lyrics, makes for an unforgettable listening experience.