The Weeknd Echoes of Silence(Self-Released) Buy it from Insound
The Weeknd has come a long way since last winter. House of Balloons was the sound of a young man trapped in a world he thought he wanted and Thursday was the same man becoming desperate and torn. Echoes of Silence is when he embraces what he has become with confidence. He embraces the debauchery, the dishonesty, the late nights and the drugs. He’s the undisputed king of his insular world. He’s gotten darker, smoother and cares about no one but himself. On House of Balloons he regrets leaving the girl he loves for a different woman. On Echoes of Silence he embraces it, knowing he can get what he wants whenever he wants it.
He treats others more like throwaways than ever before, desiring only physical contact. Everyone he meets only wants him for his fame and prestige, something he makes clear on Montreal and The Host. The latter sees him reaching filthier, darker heights than he ever has before. He sings of lust over love, filming all his sexual escapades and exchanging anything he can for sex. But, despite his newfound swagger and confidence, the occasional flash of weakness does shine through. It’s what defined his previous efforts, and he hasn’t forgotten it. On Next he again sounds trapped, singing “I’m too far in this game to let go” and “you just want me 'cause I’m next.” Moments like that make him human and separate him from the rest of the pack. It makes it less about proving himself and more about examination.
The following song, Initiation, continues similar themes and showcases some interesting production and vocal manipulation. Each of his mixtapes has featured increasingly complex production. The vocals and the production occasionally clashed on Thursday, with the beats often taking center stage when they shouldn’t have. Echoes of Silence finds a balance, and Tesfaye has learned how to work his voice around more in depth music. The Clams Casino produced The Fall is an exceptional example of a fine producer and an excellent vocalist working perfectly together. His opening cover of Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana is downright incredible, with the drums entering like a punch to the chest. Thematically speaking, the song fits perfectly.
House of Balloons is still his finest hour to date, but Echoes of Silence comes damn close to it. Tesfaye’s vocal prowess continues to improve. He might not be Michael Jackson, but he does a better job covering him than just about anybody else. The final mixtape in his trilogy is a perfect ending. He’s more confident, he’s embraced it, but he’s still weak. He’s still struggling underneath, he’s just learned to hide it. The title track closes the album begging a girl to stay the night, to not “leave my little life.” As an artist, The Weeknd is quickly growing up. I don’t doubt that he’ll be around for years to come.3 February, 2012 - 09:41 — Andrew Baer