At the age of 25, Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd is set to drop his second studio album, Beauty Behind the Madness, on Friday, and while the record is still pending an official release, nearly half of its tracks have already had success as chart-topping singles. Abdel Tesfaye, the man behind The Weeknd, possesses a uniquely contemporary sound that acts as a soundtrack for the restless and experimental youth of today, leading critics to categorize Tesfaye’s sound as PBR&B, a genre alternative to R&B. As a whole, Beauty Behind the Madness gives you what you’d expect from The Weeknd: sex, drugs, partying, more sex, and lots of falsetto. Despite Tesfaye’s frequent recycling of these themes, he manages to spin them in an irresistible way that will have you humming along, whether you want to or not.
Following 2013’s Kiss Land, which was, in my opinion, a considerably mundane album, Beauty Behind the Madness brings back an ineffable energy similarly found in his earlier EPs. Tesfaye collaborates with Lana Del Ray, Labrinth, and most surprisingly, Ed Sheeran on this album, and his songs seem more in conjunction than ever before. In fact, three of Beauty‘s singles – “Often,” “The Hills,” and “Can’t Feel My Face” – all seem to share a similar narrative. “Earned It,” yet another album single, has already reached acclaim as a featured song on the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack (the movie’s only saving grace).
My favorite song on the album — though, not entirely my choice — is “Can’t Feel My Face.” The first time I heard it, I could not get it out of my head. I’ve probably listened to it a thousand times, and it’s still not old to me. I find that this is one of Tesfaye’s strengths: he makes radio-friendly songs that never tire. Still, the album features a few down-tempo, quieter songs (“Shameless,” “Acquainted”).
As is typical to any album by the Weeknd, his new record mixes perfectly with alcohol and wild hormones. Though not necessarily a particularly innovative album, Beauty Behind the Madness still finds a way to give you what you need.