The Weeknd takes the aestetic of Michael Jackson and the ethos of Saul Williams and splices them together to create a new species entirely.
Atmosphere and mood mean more to The Weeknd's music than they do in modern conventional R&B. Soulful vocals are set to gauzy, dreamy orchestrals on the album opener "Professional".
Once you scratch beneath the shiny surface of "The Town", you get a chill from it's brooding heart. "Adaptation" grows slowly until it bursts forth in a beckoning celestial explosion.
A lot of what Tesfaye does is based on juxtaposition. A perfect example is the stellar "Belong To the World". Machine guns drum machine beats pound away underneath his soulful vocals. They seem to exist in two different worlds while at the same time complementing each other. It's all brought to a climax by the orchestrals.
It's hard to imagine anyone else who can create a song like "Love In the Sky". Tesfaye takes bad '80s techno pop, R. Kelly, and Industrial music, throws them together in a blender and blitzes up a delicious and intoxicating cocktail.
Hooks may be the only thing missing from Kiss Land. The only track that's infectious, in a traditional way, is the "Wanderlust".
The presence of Drake on "Live for" doesn't do anything for the music. It seems included only to boost marketability. The title track is unnecessarily graphic.
If commercial radio played R&B that sounded like The Weeknd, rather than the mind-numbing brand that appeals to the lowest common denominator, it might actually be worth listening to.
The Weeknd play Massey Hall in Toronto October 17th, 19th & 20th.
Best tracks: "Belong To the World", "Adaptation"
Track listing for Kiss Land:
- The Town
- Love In the Sky
- Belong To the World
- Live for
- Kiss Land
- Tears In the Rain