My Dear Melancholy
ALBUM REVIEW My Dear Melancholy, finds Tesfaye trapped in a middle ground between where he came from and where he is right now. As it was with his last two records, the production list is moneyed and well-respected: Skrillex, Nicolas Jaar, Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Cristo, and Mike WiLL Made-It are among the collaborators here, adding new wrinkles to Tesfaye’s ever-expanding sonic palette.
Skrillex continues pursuing his recent 2-step fascination with “Wasted Times,” featuring a breakdown that seems tailor-made for a capable UK Garage flip; the pained nihilism of “Privilege” takes on a subtle bloom in the hands of Frank Dukes (Lorde, Camila Cabello), with a pleasingly wordless chorus that emerges in the song’s final third. Arguably, the production has always been the most interesting element of the Weeknd as a project, and these highlights showcase Tesfaye’s still-sharp ear for cool, contemporary sounds.
When My Dear Melancholy, does recall Tesfaye’s creative past, it serves to illuminate the project’s weaknesses. It’s impossible not to hear the pronounced “Call Out My Name” as a redux of Beauty Behind the Madness’ “Earned It.” On “Hurt You,” Homem-Cristo and fellow Frenchman Gesaffelstein draw from the same well that produced Starboy’s title track and “I Feel It Coming,” but fail to match the radiance of either.
Simply put, it’s too early in this stage of Tesfaye’s career to so obviously attempt to replicate past glories. While My Dear Melancholy, makes for a slight curio in the Weeknd’s discography, it also feels like an unnecessary step backwards following the down-for-whatever approach of his recent work. There’s nothing wrong with reflecting on the past, but sometimes it’s better to just leave it there.
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