Following his hit singles “Starboy,” “False Alarm,” “Party Monster” and “I Feel It Coming,” Canadian R&B singer, The Weeknd, has released his highly anticipated third studio album, “Starboy.” The album follows the wildly popular success of his last album “Beauty Behind the Madness,” and, like “Beauty,” “Starboy” seems to possess the right recipe for making the top charts. The Weeknd continues to move farther away from the dark, moody R&B of his “Trilogy” mixtapes and further into the realm of pop music. However, “Starboy” is by no means a bland, mainstream pop album. The Weeknd’s trademark, seductive voice persists throughout the album, and he brings together a range of interesting influences, from Daft Punk’s distinct electronic sound to trap music and hip-hop.
“Starboy” has a lot to offer in its 18-song track list. While maintaining a cohesive tone, the album has many tracks with distinct sounds. It begins and ends with Daft Punk features in the songs “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming.” These are two of the biggest highlights in the album. Daft Punk shines and blends perfectly with the Weeknd’s vocals, especially in “I Feel It Coming,” which is a nice groovy track to close out the album. Though the album has its weak points in some overly produced pop songs like “False Alarm,” “Rockin’” and the sappy “True Colors,” these setbacks are minor in light of “Starboy’s” “consistently high-quality track set — something that is rare to hear in most pop music albums today. In between those few songs that are less than stellar but by no means bad are some of the standout hits of the album, like “Reminder” and “Secrets.” “Reminder” is somewhat reminiscent of the big hit, “Often” from “Beauty Behind the Madness” because it’s a fast paced song with an incredibly smooth flow. “Secrets” is another upbeat song that is extremely catchy and will likely be heard at parties for the rest of the year.
One might think that listeners would get bored listening to such a long track set. However, the second half of the album is where the Weeknd really shines. Lana del Rey contributes to the beautiful “Stargirl Interlude,” which is the best interlude for the album. The Weeknd then follows up with the track “Sidewalks,” in which Kendrick Lamar flawlessly syncs up with the rest of the song in his rap feature. The Weeknd also shows his power to innovate through songs like “Six Feet Under,” which might seems like a stereotypical Weeknd song at first, but it becomes dramatically nuanced and enhanced by guest vocals from Future. Another one of the album’s best songs is “Attention,” which is probably the Weeknd’s most captivating performance on Starboy. “Attention” also includes an surprising, interesting aspect by employing autotune reminiscent of Bon Iver. Another standout track is the penultimate, “Die For You,” a slow paced, smooth and seductive love song.
Overall, “Starboy” adds to The Weeknd’s impressive anthology with its consistently stunning vocal performances, appropriate features and effective production. It also might put him at the forefront of modern R&B stardom (especially with Frank Ocean being so reclusive). One could complain that “Starboy” is too similar in theme to The Weeknd’s previous projects; however, the Weeknd certainly hasn’t lost his passion for describing his love for beautiful women, partying and the troubles that they can bring, so the album’s continuity seems to come from a genuine place and doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Notable albums releases for December: John Legend; “Darkness and Light” (Dec. 2), Childish Gambino; “Awaken, My Love” (Dec. 2), J. Cole “4 Your Eyez Only” (Dec. 9), Kid Cudi “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’” (Dec. 16), Drake; “More Life” (TBA)