Despite an unorthodox breakthrough into the mainstream through being on the soundtrack to the film Fifty Shades of Grey, The Weeknd proves in this album that his music is even more captivating and slick, as well as being expertly produced by the man himself.
This is the second studio album from the Canadian singer-songwriter, real name Abel Tesfaye. A follow up to his album Kiss Land which peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200, and The Trilogy, a compilation of three of his mixtapes: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. The Weeknd has described The Trilogy as a piece about the first chapter of his life, and Kiss Land as the second chapter. This third chapter, Beauty Behind the Madness explores both the glamourous life of fame and the dark side of drugs.
The lyrics in much of the songs on the album show a life to be envied – a true rock and rock life style of women, drink and money. The song ‘Tell Your Friends’, co-written and co-produced by Kanye West, explores this life, interestingly over a smooth piano melody which makes the explicit lyrics seem more poetic. He sings “I’m that n*gga with the hair/ singing ‘bout popping pills, f*cking b*tches, living life so trill”.
The lead single off the album ‘The Hills’ is a sombre but captivating song. The haunting message “the hills have eyes/who are you to judge?” tells of the darker side of fame. The side of fame that involves being watched and judged by the world with the lyrics “all these motherf*ckers want a relapse”.
However the catchy pop song ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ has perhaps become the most popular song off the album in the UK. The track compares drug addiction to his relationships with women, by having the same comfort, excitement and attachment.
The album also includes appearances from Labrinth, Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran. All skilled singer songwriters in their own right, their unique vocals work well with Tesfaye’s.
Despite the dark themes of his songs, the album is an enjoyable listen and it is evident that he has learned how to engage the listener with shocking and sensual lyrics sung soulfully, and it will be interesting to see the direction that his next release will take.