The Week­end, smooth yet steamy, makes quick re­turn

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Just one year af­ter he cat­a­pulted into the ranks of top pop stars, The Weeknd has re­turned with a sprawl­ing new al­bum in which his silky voice goes into steamier ter­ri­tory. "Star­boy," the third stu­dio al­bum by the Toronto singer, stretches for 18 songs plus an ac­com­pa­ny­ing short film and is full of star col­lab­o­ra­tions in­clud­ing with the elu­sive French elec­tronic duo Daft Punk.

The al­bum came out Fri­day, al­most ex­actly a year af­ter the artist whose real name is Abel Tes­faye re­leased his break­through "Beauty Be­hind the Mad­ness," which topped the charts through mega-hits such as "Can't Feel My Face."

As ev­i­denced by his quick and vo­lu­mi­nous re­turn, the 26year-old has no short­age of ideas for his lat­est al­bum with tracks that take cues from hip-hop to 1980s New Wave. But the al­bum's over­all vibe is steami­ness, as if "Star­boy" takes place in a packed but chilled-out night­club in the early hours of the morn­ing. The Weeknd's defin­ing trait re­mains his cel­e­brated voice, strong yet smooth with a com­fort­able falsetto. On the tracks such as "Se­crets," The Weeknd also shows his ease at lower ranges.

Chem­istry with Daft Punk

"Star­boy" marks the high­est-pro­file project by Daft Punk since the duo, long­time lead­ers of the French house scene, won world­wide main­stream ac­claim with the 2013 al­bum "Ran­dom Ac­cess Me­mories."

Daft Punk in­jects a heavy bass that drives the ti­tle track and closes the al­bum with a retro R&B feel on "I Feel It Com­ing"-a track that re­in­forces the oft-noted vo­cal sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween The Weeknd and Michael Jack­son. While Daft Punk is only cred­ited as fea­tured col­lab­o­ra­tors on the two tracks, the French duo's in­flu­ence can be heard through­out "Star­boy" with its em­brace of au­dio fil­ters and a min­i­mal­ist pro­duc­tion that em­pha­sizes beats and The Weeknd's voice rather than syn­thetic ef­fects.

The Weeknd said he had be­come friends with Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and went into the duo's stu­dio in Paris, with the three men ex­per­i­ment­ing with sounds and record­ing the two songs in just a few days.

The Weeknd said it had al­ways been on his "bucket list" to work with the "enig­matic and mys­te­ri­ous" mem­bers of Daft Punk, who never ap­pear in pub­lic out­side of their robotic dis­guises. "I was def­i­nitely in­spired by that at the be­gin­ning of my ca­reer be­cause no­body knew how I looked as well," he told Apple Mu­sic's Beats 1 ra­dio.

The Weeknd, who grew up with hum­ble means as the son of Ethiopian im­mi­grants, made his name by post­ing record­ings on YouTube, win­ning fame on­line de­spite his anonymity.

'Home­less to Forbes list'

The quick earn­ing of riches is much on the mind of The Weeknd, who topped the Forbes mag­a­zine list of top-gross­ing celebrity new­com­ers of 2016 with $55 mil­lion earned. Much of the lyri­cism on the al­bum re­calls brag­gado­cio rap as The Weeknd-or per­haps his al­ter ego "Star­boy"-lists off the money he earns, the cars he drives and the women he woos.

"Home­less to Forbes list / These nig­gas bring no stress," he sings on "Side­walks," a col­lab­o­ra­tion with lead­ing rap­per Ken­drick La­mar. "I feel like Moses. I feel like I'm cho­sen," he sings. Lana Del Rey imag­ines an erotic en­counter as she sings on "Star­girl In­ter­lude"-an apt col­lab­o­ra­tion with Del Rey's mu­sic fit­ting in with the al­bum's breathy mood.

Yet The Weeknd is also re­flec­tive, es­pe­cially as the al­bum nears its end. On "Or­di­nary Life," he sings of a sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence with an­other woman he barely knows. "If I could, I'd trade it all / Trade it for a halo," he sings as he omi­nously sug­gests, "Like I'm James Dean, I'mma die when I young." — AFP

This file photo taken on Oc­to­ber 10, 2016 shows Pi­lot Pe­dro Lang­don fly­ing his Travel Air 4000 bi­plane dur­ing a photo call for the launch of the Vin­tage Air Rally in Shore­ham, Sus­sex. — AFP

Record­ing artist The Weeknd per­forms on­stage dur­ing the 2016 Amer­i­can Mu­sic Awards at Mi­crosoft Theater on Novem­ber 20, 2016 in Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia. — AP

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