Echoes of Silence opens with an explosion of energy and emotion, signaling immediately that it is an album of a much more volatile nature than Thursday. And Abel Tesfaye croons like before, but now without the weeping overtones. Instead, there are some distinctly Jacksonian dance and R&B beats that do more than merely ask for your poetic attention, they now demand it. "D.D." is a powerful and instantly catchy cover the Michael Jackson original is laden with pop sensibilities, but one that still tells the truth in that traditional (after 3 records I think it's fair to use that term) in The Weeknd way even if its not Tesfaye's. That's not to say that Echoes of Silence is all drive, surge and power compared to the previous two albums, but the theme here seems to be a healthy dose of slapping, metallic, sampled drums. Sometimes it sounds distinctly 1980s, but the vocals and lyrics remain straight shots from the hip, refreshing in their honesty and lucidity. Tesfaye remains completely uncompromising in his urgency and ability to wail effectively and overtly sexually.
"Montreal" and "Outside" recapture and re-emphasize the brokenhearted undercurrents throughout The Weeknd's previous tunes, too. With healthy doses of sensual French, "Montreal" is a mood piece that's also all about the girl thinking of the other guy, and Tesfaye, quite resilient and rebellious, stating that it doesn't matter because he wants her. "Outside" has more of a subtle, echoing, vaguely-Asian Traditional quality. But the large part is Tesfaye telling his object of affection what he plans to do to her, namely, sex her up, and eradicate all memories of her previous man in the process. "XO/The Host" with its party dynamic and clear visualizations of the party lifestyle's fallout is an epic, sprawling song that impresses, especially with its intricate layering of samples and tracks. The marching, speeding, rambling and energized "Initiation" is haunting and artistic, enjoyable, but a little rape-y and claustrophobic. But "Same Old Song" has a bluesy vibe, and in thoughtful fashion, recaps the same old songs of love and loneliness.
Essentially, Echoes of Silence is, for fans of The Weeknd, essential. It's a great third part to the arc Tesfaye began with House of Balloons, showing increasing experimentation, quality lyrics, excellent vocals and an ever-growing awareness of the darker sides of life, love and music. It's almost documentary. In the best way. Most of the tracks are below, but you can just download it for free, from the-weeknd.com.
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