This may be the easiest pun known to man—and SNL basically did this exact same one—but it’ll be nice to enjoy the rest of this Holiday weekend with a new album from… *ahem*… The Weeknd.
That’s right—about a year and a half after the release of his hit Beauty Behind The Madness, Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, is releasing his follow-up, Starboy. The record, out today via his own label (by way of Republic and Universal) XO, is an18-track trip, complete with a number of features from fellow chart-toppers. The record, as the cover art shows, sees Tesfaye continuing to retool himself as a modern day popstar—he’s diverged from his trademark haircut, and, stylistically, he’s continued to evolve greatly since first being introduced to the world as a dark, mysterious enigma on House of Balloons and the track “Crew Love” on Drake’s Take Care album.
Starboy sees a lead single collaboration with Daft Punk, a catchy hit that shares its name with the record itself. “False Alarm” was another early single, and is similarly infectuous. “Party Monster” and a second collaboration with the french robots were later dropped. Just a few days ago, The Weeknd put out a bizarre short film that ties in with the album, titled Mania.
If the singles are any indication, the album displays a continuation of Tesfaye’s movement away from the dark and brooding mood that Balloons initially established, continuting on a trek towards popstardom. As he’s mentioned many times, Michael Jackson is his idol. He wants to be like him musically, and you certainly hear it—at least in the early singles. “I Feel It Coming,” that second Daft Punk collaboration, is 100% Jackson-esque, and it’s inherently fun, for the record. The song has the spirit-lifting sound that Jackson was so good at on now-iconic songs like “P.Y.T.” After working with standout voices such as Pharrell and Julian Casablancas on their 2013 album, Random Access Memories…, Daft Punk has once again found a fantastic match for their production with The Weeknd.
The King of Pop isn’t the only legend playing influence on Starboy, however; The Weeknd detailed in the lead-up to the album’s release that the album itself was named after the late David Bowie, and that he was planning on recording with Prince at Paisey Park before his own untimely passing in April. Surely those influences bleed their way into the album’s 18 tracks.
In addition to Daft Punk, the album houses appearances from many of The Weeknd’s contemporaries throughout its 68-minute run time. These include Lana Del Rey, who also showed up on Beauty last year, probably the greatest rapper alive in Kendrick Lamar, and fellow dark/brooding star Future, who had a gigantic hit with Tesfaye earlier this year in “Low Life.”
Time will only tell whether Starboy will be as big of a hit as Beauty Behind The Madness, which housed the mega-singles “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills,” among others. But with a continuing move toward popstardom, The Weeknd seems to be in a good place, and there’s no reason to think that this is the weekend that will end its run.
Listen to Starboy now on Spotify via XO/Republic Records