Arts

The Weeknd sings of lost love with little originality in ‘My Dear Melancholy,’

The Weeknd returns to the darkness and passion of his older works, but My Dear Melancholy, does little to expand on what the artist has already done.

Image By: Image courtesy of Spin

After weeks of dropping hints on Instagram, The Weeknd released My Dear Melancholy, a stirring collection of emotionally dark R&B to complement the latest winds of winter that blew through Madison. Just as the weather, The Weeknd has gone backward, but unlike the snow on the ground, The Weeknd’s trip back in time is a refreshing return to the past.

The comma in My Dear Melancholy, is no mistake, and it exemplifies the commitment The Weeknd has for the project. He dove headfirst into the lo-fi pop world of Starboy, which brought in his mainstream success as a focal point both lyrically and sonically. It made for adequate music, but failed to reach the critical heights of earlier releases like Trilogy. My Dear Melancholy, serves as the antithesis to Starboy: It’s an angst-ridden love letter filled with the passion and darkness that The Weeknd left off his previous album, which favored faster tempos and radio-friendly choruses.

That passion and darkness is a reliable backbone, fully and concisely focused across the record’s six tracks. The opener “Call Out My Name” is emotional and straightforward, with a slow groove in three-four time to set the pace and tone for the rest of the album. The Weeknd, who previously dated Selena Gomez for 10 months before splitting in October, sings about lost love all through the album. His unabashedness in taking on these emotions is appreciated, as it gives him a more human soul to bare rather than just trying to please the masses like with Starboy. His vocal performances also feel more sincere and personal as a result.

While the album’s aesthetic is geared toward darkness, The Weeknd and his producers try to combine his lyrical content with the sounds of Starboy. “Hurt You” is one of the most obvious examples, using a treble-driven intro before bringing in thumping bass that drives the beat. “Wasted Times” is percussive, with a syncopated bass drum and an electronic hi-hat. The track also features the chorus with The Weeknd’s vocals pitched down, repeating one of the record’s more likeable hooks: “I ain’t got no business catching feelings.”

“I Was Never There,” featuring production from French techno artist Gesaffelstein, has a beat change for the last third of the song, and it offers a fun juxtaposition after the first two thirds stretch the track’s ideas as far as they’ll go. Closing track “Privilege” pitches The Weeknd’s voice up while also removing the ability to understand what he’s saying for the last chorus, but it’s too much of an obvious emotional grab without much originality.

My Dear Melancholy, is easier to consume with only six tracks compared to Starboy’s 18. Altogether, however, the best moments of his angstiest feels don’t add up to create a truly great project. The album’s lyrics are where The Weeknd is weakest, and all of the songs are a little too similar to make them stand out from one another.

It’s nice to see The Weeknd return to his past roots, but if My Dear Melancholy, is what longtime fans have been waiting for, some may find it too familiar to appreciate the record as anything more than an incredibly short Trilogy. It will be exciting to see where The Weeknd goes from here, just as I thought when he released the fun, but shallow Starboy. However, I don’t know if I need any new music from The Weeknd when I can find more engaging content in his past releases.


Final Grade: C

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