The Weeknd: Kiss Land

11 Oct

Kiss Land is the first studio album by The Weeknd, a male R&B artist with an impressively bleak worldview. Following off the critical success of his first three mixtapes (Collectively known as The Trilogy), Kiss Land is what happens when an underground darling gets a major studio contract. This album is The Weeknd, but more expansive and less groundbreaking. This is still far from a sop for public radio, it is dark, disturbing and very original. It is just watered down from the hemlock and whiskey that was The Trilogy.

The most arresting quality of this album is the textures of the music. The title track for instance sets the mood admirably with a dark beat and chilling screams playing behind Abel Tesfaye’s haunting voice. This album feels meticulously produced and benefits strongly from it. Kiss Land is a shock when first heard, and while it may not be quite the bucket of cold water that The Trilogy was, it is still intense.

The Weeknd’s lyrics form the other half of the album’s impact, and like the music itself, are cold, sneering and honestly chilling. Admittedly, his wording often leaves much to be desired, but his portraits of the R&B standards of drugs, women and the good life as depraved and depressed self-loathing are still compelling. His disappointments and disgust all feel authentic and he has no trouble conveying their depth. As he states in Kiss Land, this ain’t nothing to relate to.

There are many reasons to hate this album. The mood is unsettling, the lyrics are depressing and the album itself just does not hold up when compared to The Trilogy, but this is nevertheless a good, still fresh take on R&B and well worth a listen.

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