The Weeknd releases surprise EP

“My Dear Melancholy” is reflective, melancholy

ae-TheWeeknd-CourtesyWikimeidaCommons

A screenshot of a conversation between Abel Tesfaye, the Weeknd, and La Mar Taylor, his creative director, surfaced with the text “should we drop Friday? I’m indifferent to be honest.”

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Multi-platinum albums, various Grammys and the excesses of fame have defined the The Weeknd’s post-Max Martin career. Creating an album as commercially-successful as “Starboy” is a feat achieved by few and followed up by fewer. When the screenshot of a conversation between Abel Tesfaye, the Weeknd, and La Mar Taylor, his creative director, surfaced with the text “should we drop Friday? I’m indifferent to be honest,” bloggers and fans alike took to social media by storm. No singles had been released, no marketing had been done and no one knew what to expect from pop’s burgeoning favorite.

What followed was a skin-and-bones EP that barely spans 20 minutes. The sounds are starkly different than the two albums that preceded it. Despite its brevity, “My Dear Melancholy” boasts production credits from the likes of Gesaffelstein, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (of Daft Punk) and Nicolas Jaar. 

The opening track defines the EP. The emotionally vulnerable yet sultry ballad feels more like an open confession than the polished pop that launched The Weeknd from an alternative blogosphere into full-on commercial superstardom. The seemingly impenetrable braggadocio of “Starboy” is stripped away like a temporary veneer, revealing a familiar sight of fatalistic abandon and hopeless self-medication. Lines such as “I said I didn't feel nothing, baby, but I lied / I almost cut a piece of myself for your life / Guess I was just another pit stop / 'Til you made up your mind / You just wasted my time” usher on a morose melodrama that carries throughout the project.

After a couple listens, the tracklist prompts an element of déjà vu. “Call Out My Name” sounds like a reprise to “Earned It,” “Hurt You” is the exit-music version of “Starboy” and “Privilege” could easily be the closing track of one of the “Trilogy” chapters. Other than the textured dance beat of “Wasted Time,” little on this project screams novelty for Tesfaye. Despite the lack of sonic originality, this project carries its weight through Tesfaye’s ability to string together reactionary pinings into a cohesive narrative. Moreover, given that Tesfaye’s high-profile relationships with supermodel Bella Hadid and singer Selena Gomez inspired the lyrics, the audience is coerced into approaching this EP as a telenovela rather than something to relate to. 

The prevailing sentiment of this EP is a bitter cocktail of reflection, remorse and frustration toward failed relationships and attempts at emotional transparency. The solution presented by Tesfaye is nothing new as he attempts to drown out his issues with the rather clichéd pursuit of drugs and meaningless sex as seen in lyrics such as, “What makes a grown man wanna cry? / What makes him wanna take his life? / His happiness is never real / And mindless sex is how he feels” from the track “I Was Never There.”

The prompt indifference with which this project was released along with the abeyance of radio-friendly hits raises many questions. While fans may ponder as to whether “Beauty Behind the Madness” and “Starboy” were merely means to mainstream success, one thing is for certain — “My Dear Melancholy” is not afraid of wearing its heart on its sleeve. 

Correction: The article previously misstated the name of The Weeknd's EP as "Melancholy My Dear." The correct title of the EP is "My Dear Melancholy."

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