The Weeknd scores a perfect album with Beauty Behind The Madness
The Weeknd‘s Beauty Behind The Madness gives us new perspective on his music. Abel Tesfaye‘s major pop transition seems to have sprouted out of nowhere, but in fact it’s been carefully orchestrated for years. The last studio album The Weeknd put out was Kiss Land and it did him absolutely no justice. Although Kiss Land had cool artwork, ideas, plus features from Pharrell and Drake, it still seemed to be missing the authentic elements. The music, the man, and the XO movement, have all grown tremendously over the past year. Beauty Behind The Madness is the culmination of what XO has grown into.
Weeknd first appeared as just a myth. Music without a face as you will. When the début project House of Balloons released via the October’s Very Own blog 5 years ago, it was so different and ignorant. There is a special kind of beauty in ignorant music. You definitely had to be “High For This” while listening to House Of Balloons. Abel hasn’t necessarily sold out, if that’s what you’re thinking. He has just become really fucking great at what he does. The XO movement is still major — now more than ever even as a successful clothing line. Future is the latest celebrity who has been seen consistently representing Abel‘s XO movement.
Beauty Behind The Madness is what should have been Abel‘s first studio album, i.e. Kiss Land. The textures and haunting vocals are exactly what you should expect to hear when you mention The Weeknd. Although he has slightly censored his delinquent, drug heavy music, you can still feel their presence if you listen closely. He has somehow figured out how to make doing drugs and fucking models appealing and acceptable to the public by creating catchy hooks and bubbly choruses.
There are only three major features on Beauty Behind The Madness. The first feature comes from a London Borough local named Labrinth. “Losers” is a very different record considering most of executive producer Illangelo‘s music is much darker. Some of this brighter influence is coming from another executive producer, Jason “DaHeala” Quenneville. DaHeala, who has worked on many Weeknd projects including production for the global hit single “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)“.
An interesting gem found within the album would be that Mike Dean produced “Dark Times” which features Ed Sheeran. Mike Dean is most notable for engineering almost everything Kanye West has ever done. A living legend for sure. Mix those two elements together and you have yourself a sure thing. Remember Sheeran went platinum with his album, X, thanks to help from music producer and guru, Rick Rubin.
This next collaboration was a movie in the making for some years now. The Weeknd and Lana Del Rey aka Lizzy Grant mysteriously surfaced around the same time. “Prisoner” honestly shows a different side, vocally from Lana Del Rey. Classic eerie Abel cries throughout this uptempo ballad. Weeknd first played this song at Coachella, but it was simply the instrumental. It has been on repeat almost the entire time writing this.
“You ain’t got no Yeezy on yo’ album?” Fortunately for The Weeknd he got an entire song produced by Kanye West. “Tell Your Friends” is sample-heavy, so you know it’s real. It sounds like it could have been easily used on a Common or John Legend album. Abel owns it and turns it into an original Weeknd hit. “Last year I did all the politicking, this year I’m gon’ focus on the vision”. His vision is clear. The visuals to this single are clear. Beauty Behind The Madness.
The world is about to witness history in the making because what Abel Tesfaye is doing to music is next level. Expect Beauty Behind The Madness to sweep multiple categories come awards season. Out the gate this album had 4 hit singles on the charts; “Can’t Feel My Face“, “Earned It“, “Often” and “The Hills” are all high quality summer hits of 2015. Now “Tell Your Friends” has officially released and it’s soaring. I consider Beauty Behind The Madness an example of a perfect pop album in this generation.