The Canadian singer Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, officially introduced his fourth studio album After Hours on March 20. The album was formally released by The Weeknd’s very own Canadian record label XO alongside the American record label owned by Universal Music Group, Republic Records. After Hours holds the title as The Weeknd’s fourth number-one album and holds the biggest first week sales of any album for 2020 so far.
After Hours presents itself as the first studio album since The Weeknd’s release of Starboy in 2016. It follows the release of his 2018 EP My Dear Melancholy. The standard release edition of After Hours does not feature any other artists. However, the deluxe edition features guest appearances from the band Chromatics and artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, alongside additional remixed tracks. The deluxe edition has since been updated to include three new bonus tracks.
The aesthetic of After Hours presents an early-era Abel, full of whispered confessions alongside a glamorous and brilliant ‘80s vibe. The album’s sounds consist of warped dubstep and abstractly bent Chicago drill, but also bolsters staccato trap textures with whistling sirens and slightly muted drum ‘n’ bass. His rhythms evoke a balladry of R&B that promote a search for pleasure that is both thrilling and alive.
The Weeknd sent Apple Music the impactful following statement in regards to After Hours, “You can find love, fear, friends, enemies, violence, dancing, sex, demons, angels, loneliness, and togetherness all in the After Hours of the night.”
While the majority of the album uses the feel of a smoky atmosphere with fragile falsettos to target an emotional journey, there are also a few notably bright and radiant moments. “Blinding Lights” is the second single of the album and was boosted by a glitzy Mercedes-Benz commercial promoting the Mercedes-Benz EQC electric SUV. The song was also used as promotion for the Super Bowl LIV and will be featured as the theme song for WrestleMania 36. “Blinding Lights” has been a major success for the album and has peaked at number one in twenty-seven countries around the world. Producers Max Martin and Oscar Holter are also accredited in its production.
The Weeknd consistently promotes a very mesmerizing and psychedelic feel within his musical and artistic expression. Every album he has released has proven to be universally intriguing and continuously ensures his name at the top of the charts. With every release The Weekend evolves and reinvents himself, leaving fans absolutely hooked on the havoc. He knows how to perfectly balance his musical personalities, navigating upbeat pop culture sounds while also sharing an often relatable sad persona of remorse and self-reflection that delves into a beautiful state of vulnerability. It is this fluidity and his undeniably angelic vocals that have fans always craving more.