[Dec. 21, 2011 – Self-Released // Find it at: the-weeknd-xo.com]
Look at the album cover, press play and ask yourself, “Is R&B really back?”. The reality that surrounds Echoes Of Silence, The Weeknd’s third mixtape in a series that chokes out hooks after hooks (House Of Balloons) and mends the trials of love with hate (Thursday), is the predominant genre of rythm and blues has transformed back into a vital fix. It’s vindictive as it is sensual, and on this installment, Abel Tesfaye is essentially bolder than he’s ever been. “Outside”, a sexual confession illuminated with lines like “I’mma work you like a pro, baby” and “I know he’s still in your brain / I’m ’bout to burn that shit into flames”, sits and watches Tesfaye’s voice dance up and down your spine, hitting spot after spot, something those near M. Jackson-like falsettos do on the cover of the 1988 number “Dirty Diana”. Skip to another track and The Weeknd’s infamous drugged out play on carnal emotions are still measurable, it’s just Echoes Of Silence is infected with it, and the twist of pitch and magnetic croons (“Same Old Song”, “Montreal”) evaporate the drowning feeling that come with recordings that stretch past five minutes.
The tape still wanders on, like most of Tesfaye’s past material, but instead of falling into a bottomless carousel of repetition, a new play on experimentation hits the needle that’s dropped. The Clams Casino cred on “The Fall” chalks up a dispatch of slowed handclaps and atmospheric dips before riding a more East Coast hip-hop bass tap that begs for a verse. Even “XO / The Host” is a love crime in itself as the Toronto-bred voice sings about a fling lost in lust and attraction before the volume screeches and a female-like moan is stripped into the familiar warped soul Tesfaye endorses. From Balloons to Echoes, The Weeknd has strapped us into this bed of methodic, licentious blues we can’t abandon, rip apart or break off. It’s obvious, there are issues, there are qualities we can’t accept or find happiness in, but it’s so afflicting in a tempting way that it’s difficult to neglect. With the third installment being such a riveting form of closure for a nine-month affair, it’s hard to not come crawling back for another hit.
Download: “Outside”, “Montreal”, “XO / The Host”
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