The new king of sensual pop is back. The Weeknd's new album Starboy shows a growth of his character and sound.
Starboy is an album about fame and its intricacies. The album begins with the eponymous single 'Starboy,' which admittedly sounds a lot better on the album that it does as a standalone single. Perhaps its a new mix or just the context, but 'Starboy' sounds great, exceeding our original thoughts. The Weeknd and Daft Punk put together a very solid song. 'Starboy' is a good representation of the album to come, sensual and somewhat threatening at its core. The song itself is a realization of fame, but negatively and positively. It's about grandiose but also about an internal anger, the chorus lines "Look what you've done / I'm a motherfuckin' starboy" ringing both proudly and with contempt.
'Party Monster' follows through with a darker composition, sweet melodies ringing above dark synths. The song follows up with the story of 'Starboy,' The Weeknd singing about his need for a girl who already has another man. The song reaches an epic climax in its bridge, great melodies resonating hauntingly above The Weeknd's singing. The bridges on the album really take many songs to another level - later on the record comes the punchy 'A Lonely Night.' This one has a lot more of a poppy flair, sweet melodies keeping the upfront synths bouncing until the bridge, where synths explode with huge amounts of bass for a huge experience.
There are plenty of moments on the record where a poppier atmosphere takes over. Songs like 'Secrets' and 'True Colors' rings slowly and sweetly, while others like 'Love To Lay' go into fully infectious tones. 'Lay' is a fun song, upbeat percussion driving the song powerfully throughout its length. The album ends on a sweet note, as well: 'Die For You' returning the dreamy vibes and combining it with the infectious flairs of previous tracks before Daft Punk returns for the finale 'I Feel It Coming,' bursting with funk.
Starboy has a statement to deliver, however. It becomes most apparent firstly in 'Reminder,' which is really a big "fuck you" to those labelling him as a sell-out for abandoning his darker influences. Its chill composition allows for The Weeknd to gracefully diss his haters. Similarly, 'Sidewalks' is the story of The Weeknd's and Kendrick Lamar's upbringings, Lamar absolutely smashing his verse in the track, as he does. Anything he touches turns to gold. The album treads away from the negatives of fame, too, taking in the extravagance of it all, another "fuck you" to the haters: 'Rockin'' has a lot of groove and sweet melodies that make the message about a fun relationship sound great, and Lana del Ray helps 'Stargirl Interlude' sound weird and oddly sensual as the lyrics call for the starboy's lover.
Starboy isn't a perfect album, however. In trying to become something different, there's always moments of awkward transition. Such is the case of 'False Alarm,' a song we didn't originally enjoy. It's gotten a bit better since, but the great verses can't save the off putting choruses. The screaming really doesn't suit him. Most of the collaborations are good, but, as always, Future is hit or miss. He provides backup on 'Six Feet Under,' where he's tolerable, though his instrumental influence can be heart in the beat, and there's 'All I Know,' where he absolutely trashes the flow and great melodies. Other songs like 'Attention' and 'Nothing Without You' just don't have any memorable merit to them.
The Weeknd is the newest threat in the pop world, and he's here to stay for quite some time. Starboy is in a eclectic record, bringing his past sound to something new while still maintaining the dark sensuality that made him famous. It's not perfect, but it's a solid transition. What's great about The Weeknd is that he isn't afraid to take risks, and that's what Starboy is all about. There's no moving forward if you can't be ready to take a step back.
Favorite Tracks: Rockin', Starboy, Sidewalks, Love To Lay
Least Favorite Tracks: Stargirl Interlude, Attention
Rating: 79 / 100