Beauty Behind the Madness – The Weeknd album review
The Weeknd Officially Goes Mainstream on Beauty Behind The Madness
If you asked most, they’d probably tell you the first time they’d heard of The Weeknd was on the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack or accompanying Ariana Grande on “Love Me Harder,” but he’s been on the music scene since 2009 expressing his artistry, with a melisma that some have called otherworldly. This artistry is in full effect on Beauty Behind the Madness, the second studio album from the Canadian native. Amidst 14 tracks, he expands on the aesthetics, key to his production and singing. Despite several of the songs having been out for a while, the album is cohesive, merging pop and R&B into a cultivated listening experience.
Beauty Behind The Madness opens with “Real Life,” which lyrically reads as memoirish allowing the artist to reveal the sides of entertainers, fans don’t see. With its slick, quiet storm rhythm, “Tell Your Friends,” finds the Weeknd in his element, using the tremulous vocal technique that many have argued is similar to Michael Jackson’s signature musical trademark. “Often,” the first single from Beauty, released in the summer of 2014, is similarly constructed, though more subdued allowing for a vocal ebbing quality.
Fans of both of the aforementioned genres would find it difficult not to at least welcome, “Can’t Feel My Face,” which stirs a disco era vibe and poetics that are saturated with sentimental mush. Yet, for the Weeknd, this works on multiple levels as the track is full of grand, majestic acoustics and has given him his second number one of the Billboard charts, behind “Earned It,” also featured here.
On “Dark Times,” Ed Sheeran joins him as the two recite a violent tale. This should fare well on radio, if released. Lana Del Rey complements him well on “Prisoner,” and in some ways, steals the show with her cinematic contralto. “Angel” closes out Beauty Behind the Madness. It’s packaged as the album’s magnum opus, and to a certain degree, accomplishes this feat.
There’s no denying the craftsmanship presented on Beauty. The sound is crisp and does not feel like an attempt to hop on the pop bandwagon. Instead, Beauty Behind the Madness provides a considerable amount of proof whether pop and R&B can indeed be unified.
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