The Weeknd has been around for a few years now. After a series of well-received mixtapes, he dropped his first album “Kiss Land” way back in 2013. Last year, though, with “Beauty Behind the Madness” his popularity absolutely exploded. The album hit number one, and tracks like “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel My Face” were international hits. He even got an Oscar nomination for “Earned It” from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. Now, he’s back with his new record “Starboy” and, despite a few catchy jams, the overall result feels pretty uninspired and bland.
The intro and title track, produced by Daft Punk, is easily a highlight. It’s fun, catchy, inoffensive synth pop track, great for throwing into a party playlist, or singing along to in the car. The second track, “Party Monster” is also a good one, with its standout cyber-punk esque synth line. It helps set the electro-heavy atmosphere of the album. But from there, a good majority of the tracks just sort of start blending into each other. Tracks like “Reminder” and “Secrets” are little more than vanilla synth pop with no standout features, and very little creative lyricism. And this slump lasts almost the majority of the record. “Sidewalks” with Kendrick Lamar is a nice, smooth jam, the penultimate track, “Die For You” is corny, but effective, and the final track “I Feel It Coming,” also produced by Daft Punk, is a great feel good song that at least ends the album on a high note.
Though these handful of tracks are enjoyable, well-produced, and fun to listen to, this is a somewhat long project, clocking at an hour and eight minutes, so it overall just feels like a slog. Considering this album was made in less than a year, it makes me feel like it’s not as concise or as fully realized as it could have been, had Abel given himself a good while longer to flesh it out. It’s not bad per say, it’s just super average. We know at this point that The Weeknd is a talented guy, with a great voice to boot. He can do better than this.