By Deja Brumfield
The time has finally come! It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for…
The Weeknd’s long-anticipated album, After Hours, has dropped and, dare I say, it’s everything we could’ve hoped for and more. Each song digs deeper into his emotional state than his last release.
The sound of this album is substantially different than his previous albums, dipping into a more 80s’ synth vibe. But nonetheless, the lyrics are just as raw and emotional as before. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
This first track of the album discusses Abel’s struggle with his identity as he rediscovers who he is. He opens the song talking about taking off a disguise and how he feels as though he’s living a life that isn’t his own. He begs his lover to help him find who he once was as he exclaims that he’s not sure if he can be alone again.
The song opens by puting the listeners in a dreamlike state and then about midway through transitions to a more aggressive beat. I think it’s the perfect opener for this album as it introduces a variety of topics, such as drug abuse and relationship issues, that he addresses throughout the album.
The second song of the album is a more fast-paced track that reveals a side of The Weeknd that takes all the blame for a failed relationship. He begs his lover to forgive him and come back and live a life of sin with him.
He sings of how it’s “too late” to save their souls and how because of this, his lover should just choose to live out this life with him. The upbeat sound of the track mixed with his pleas for his lover to return offer the perfect balance of energy and insight into his emotional state. This helps the listener feel what he’s feeling, though from a distance.
“Hardest To Love”
Following the themes of the previous track, in “Hardest To Love,” Abel continues to take the blame for the end of the relationship as he reminisces. He expresses how he’s not happy with how he acted and that he knows he was difficult to be with.
Yet, after it all, he has no regrets. He wonders why his lover still feels so strongly for him when he hasn’t always been the best person to be with and when he’s put her through so much. The song features an electronica sound that he’s experimented a little bit with in previous albums.
One thing that stands out the most when listening to this track is the transition from this song to the next (if you’re listening to the album in order). The transition is smooth and seamless, almost as if you’re listening to one continuous track.
“Scared To Live”
This track, which The Weeknd first debuted on Saturday Night Live, talks about how the painful breakup left his lover doubting love. He urges her not to be “scared to live again” as he sings of his regrets and how he can’t go back in time to change anything. But, he insists that he still wishes the best for her.
This track beautifully explains how he feels after the breakup and everything he hopes for in regards to the future of his ex-lover. He comes to the realization that he could’ve been better, but because he can’t change the past, he wants her to move on and find happiness again.
This track takes on a mellow alternative, R&B vibe as Abel looks back on his past before the fame. He also speaks about his incredibly quick rise to fame. He talks about all the drugs and women that wanted him as he started to blow up.
He also sings about how California was his dream, but now that he’s been there and experienced it all, he’s ready to return home for good. He sings of his mansion that he’s barely in and how he spends a lot of time on the road touring. Because of this, California never really felt like home. The themes of this track blend seamlessly into the following song.
“Escape From LA”
This song has a slower R&B vibe and includes The Weeknd passively dismissing his partner’s infidelity throughout their relationship. He insists that for them to live a happy life together, they have to get out of LA.
To him, LA isn’t all that it seemed it would be. The lifestyle is too fast and he feels as though he’s fighting for his soul, which he implies he lost to fame. He expresses that he has everything he could’ve ever dreamt of, but without her he is nothing.
He sings about how he has to leave LA because everything is too artificial. The lyrics of this track reveal his true feelings about all the fame he’s acquired and how it’s taken a toll on his relationship and personal life.
This song takes a sharp turn from the previous track as Abel brags about his careless lifestyle. He talks about how he’s returning to his old lifestyle filled with drugs and endless women. He brags of his fame and all the opportunities and magazine coverage he’s gotten, referencing his Rolling Stone, Time, and HARPER’S BAZAAR magazine cover features.
This song provides a more upbeat tone that fits the arrogant lyrics he sings. It shows a less vulnerable side of him than what he had shown in previous tracks. It is a nice switch-up in tone from what we had previously heard and allows the listener to stay invested.
This track has a somber theme despite its upbeat sound. It details The Weeknd’s lifestyle of partying and drug abuse. He explains how he only feels something when he comes down from the high. He also compares getting high to losing one’s religion.
Though the song’s sounds more upbeat, the lyrics themselves are very raw and give insight into his struggles with drugs and how he uses them to cope with loss.
This electropop track explains how Abel is constantly in a state of distraction and the only thing that can help him focus is the presence of his lover. He aims to reach out to her because he feels lost without her and can only be relieved by her company.
This song was released as his second single for this album and has already gained a decent amount of traction. It’s 80’s sound intrigued a lot of listeners and helped build up the anticipation for the album prior to its release.
“In Your Eyes”
This track reveals a more vulnerable side of The Weeknd as he discusses how he can see the pain he’s caused his lover when he looks in her eyes. He sings of how it’s time for him to become one with his feelings and that he’d rather be by her side. He talks about how he tried to find love in other people but he couldn’t get her off his mind.
The song has a catchy 80’s synth sound that introduces the sounds that follow in the last half of the album. There’s also a nice mini saxophone solo towards the end that helps to carry the upbeat tune.
“Save Your Tears”
In this track, Abel talks about seeing his lover without him and how happy she looks. He mentions the regret he feels for leaving and expresses he’s not even sure why he left. He explains that when she walks past him and ignores him, it makes him question his decision to leave.
He begs for her to come back promising he’ll stay this time. He also acknowledges he may be too late and that she deserves better. This track is a synth-heavy track on the album and it’s one of the more catchy songs.
“Repeat After Me (Interlude)”
This track puts the listener in a hypnotic state as Abel beckons his lover to repeat after him. He sings “You don’t love him if you’re thinking of me” over and over again as if trying to convince his ex-lover that she still loves him.
Also, the background vocals are done by none other than Tame Impala which explains the psychedelic feel that this track has.
This song once more addresses a failed relationship as The Weeknd sings about how without his lover he’s not the same. It features sounds seen in his earlier albums such as Trilogy and, in my opinion, has similar vibes about halfway through, as his 2013 album Kiss Land did.
In this track, The Weeknd apologizes for his past mistakes and promises that if she comes back to him, he won’t leave her again. He explains how he’s been trying to not think about her by distracting himself with other women and surrounding himself with others but, he only feels more lonely as a result.
He talks about how he’s been trying to live out his fantasies to forget about her, but it hasn’t worked and he still finds himself dreaming of her. This song has dark vocals and transitions into an electronic sound midway through. This track is very real and in a way is an apology to his lover for everything he’s done wrong in the past.
“Until I Bleed Out”
This song is the perfect end to the album as it discusses how he’s given all he’s got and now is exhausted. This is in relation to all the work he’s put into trying to fix his broken relationship. He talks about how his body is drained and he can no longer keep fighting for his lost love.
However, it can also be symbolic of all the hard work he’s put into this album and how he feels drained from pouring out his heart over the course of this 14 track album.
Overall, I think the album is a solid 9/10, if not a 10/10. Although the sound is very different from his earlier music, the lyrics give us a deep look into his private life and his emotional state. Because of this, fans are able to feel connected to him and some may even relate to some aspects.
The sounds of the album are something we haven’t really heard too much of from him and it just shows that sometimes change is necessary for an artist to keep people interested and expand their fan base.
Whether the album was a hit or miss for you (although it was a clear hit for me), there’s no denying the amount of time, effort and emotion The Weeknd put into this album.
And that should be enough to convince you to give it a listen if you haven’t already.