Abel Tesfaye is still a mystery to us, despite his omnipotent presence in the hip-hop mainstream. Production duties on Drake tracks made him well-known, and his first two free mixtapes (House of Balloons
) have done a fairly good job of establishing his aural fixations. No one is questioning his R&B oeuvre, the man has already laid down two albums worth of soulful (and often memorable) songs full of gooey emotes, seduction, and dark undertones. Echoes Of Silence
continues along this vein, so much so that we're beginning to wonder, where is it all headed? Dude's still panning like crazy.
Echoes Of Silence
feels like the most risky spread of experiments of the trilogy. The Weeknd has had plenty of opportunity to feel out what works and what doesn't, but here he makes use of his many directional options. He's certainly alluded to Michael Jackson-isms, but opener "D.D." is a straight-up king-of-pop impression. It's still affecting, despite the transparency of running with a cover as the opener. The pitch-shifted "Initiation" is a neat experiment as well. A lot of Echoes Of Silence
serves to highlight Tesfaye's voice as much as his production prowess. Really hoping the aptly titled "Next" is a taste of what's to come-- it's the brightest example of thoughtful, affecting songwriting on the whole tape.
Although the tracks still sizzle, he hasn't be able to nail down anything quite as memorable or immediately captivating as the riff of "High For This" or "What You Need," still his strongest material. Lucky for us, even when he's treading water, The Weeknd is still an enjoyable dip in the R&B pool. Looking forward to the next lap.