Music

‘My Dear Melancholy’: A Track-by-Track Review

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After years of waiting for The Weeknd to grace our ears with ‘Trilogy’ and ‘House of Balloons’ sounds again, it seems as though the wait is finally over!! The Weeknd that we all fell in love with is back by popular demands.

The Weeknd has seemed to take an entire 180 from his 2016 ‘Starboy’ phase, and the artist embraces his global pop stardom, ahead of his upcoming Coachella headlining performance in April. Abel returns to his ‘Trilogy’ roots, providing six harrowing tracks on ‘My Dear Melancholy.’

The projects see a varied amount of collaborations with both DJs and producers. French DJ Gasaffelstein who worked with The Weeknd on two songs. Producer Frank Dukes also appears on another major project, as he’s credited as an executive producer along with Tesfaye on the EP. Other producers that helped to craft the forbidding sound included Daheala, Marz, Mike WiLL Made-It, Skrillex, Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and more.

The Weeknd makes almost all of the 21 minutes worth it. He opens up and lets fans into his melancholy world. The dark songs find the artist painfully recalling the trials and tribulations of his recent life. Chilling lyrics referencing former relationships, sex, and drug use are present on the EP. If you’re a fan of his earlier work, this unfiltered project is sure to reignite your interest.

1. Call Out My Name

The singer clearly had some things he wanted to address to set the tone for what ‘My Dear Melancholy’ will sound like.

Piano. Sad keys. The man of the hour appears with sultry vocals. Soft, distant, like he’s singing to us from a place of vulnerability. There’s regret in this story as he shifts the narrative back to the menacing themes fans were once used to. He admits to helping his past lover get out of a dark place after her nasty split with an ex, but falling for her was his downfall.

“We found each other/ I helped you out of a broken place/ You gave me comfort/ But falling for you was my mistake,” he confesses.

The buildup in the song takes its sweet time. There’s no rush. Weeknd promises to arrive if you call his name. There’s passion in his vocals. The production is seamless, an aching in the pulsing thump. Abel is deep and open to his emotions. The infatuation weighs a ton, almost as if he recorded this in Marvin’s Room.

A rather straightforward, strong beginning. Thick bass and haunting harmonies. The mood is true to the album title. The Weeknd, the master of melancholy.

2. Try Me

A large group of talented producers made their mark on “Try Me.” DaHeala, Marz, Frank Dukes, and Mike WiLL Made-It each offered up their expertise to create this song’s haunting tone. The second track off of ‘My Dear Melancholy’ sees Abel attempting to persuade his love interest to leave her man and get back with him.

“I thought you had some kind of love for your man/ Well, I’m not tryna break up something/ You’ve been working out, you’ve been steady,” he sings.

Another soft beginning that doesn’t last long. Pitch black is the only color I’m getting from the music. Even Abel’s vocals seem to sit in the darkness. With the deep underwater sounds, it’s like he’s swimming in a sea made black by Ursula.

This song seems almost reminiscent of Kiss Land upon first listen. This isn’t Abel doing another Michael Jackson cover songs; he has revisited his original voice. Although I’m a little underwhelmed by “Try Me.” It hits all the standards expected of Abel but that’s it as it doesn’t exceed them in any way. The breakdown at the end is beautiful and the guitars just add that little touch of magic to Abel records. I can see it growing on me but it’s not an early favorite.

3. Wasted Time

Frank Dukes teams up with the legendary Skrillex for this sinister beat.

The Weeknd makes subtle references to his high profile relationships with Bella Hadid and Selena Gomez from the past. He opens the tormenting song by flipping Selena’s “Same Old Love” lyrics

“I’m not spending any time, wasting tonight on you,” into a shot at Gomez. “Wasted times I spent with someone else/ She wasn’t even half of you,” The Weeknd subliminally sings.

He also references Bella Hadid’s past as an equestrian, which she had to give up on due to suffering from Lyme’s Disease.

“You were equestrian, so ride it like a champion (I’ll beat it)/ This sex will get you high without no other substance,” claims Abel.

It’s different but also intriguing to hear Abel sing with such remorse. The combination of his voice and the production’s minimalistic bounce is absolute GOLD! Abel isn’t overdressing his sound, it’s very simplistic and striking. There’s no overproduction on this one. Which makes this one of the best songs on the EP.

I can always count on The Weeknd to deliver an after-hours chilled vibes banger. The kind of Music for when you’re deep in your feelings and need to hear someone just sing your frustrations. He sounds great. You feel the emotion as he crumbles by the weight of all his regrets and faults.

I don’t want to wake up if you aren’t laying next to me” sounds honest as Abel dived further into his heart.

4. I Was Never There

Gesaffelstein is probably best known in the hip-hop world for his contributions to Kanye West’s futuristic Yeezus album.

The French DJ helped co-produce “Black Skinhead” and “Send It Up.” Here, he teams up with Frank Dukes for the synth-laden “I Was Never There.” The intro is sonic and sounds similar to what he produced for Kanye on “Send It Up.”

The R&B singer admits to poisoning himself with many different drugs but always finds himself crawling back to a toxic relationship.

“So I poison myself again, again/ ‘Til I feel nothing/ In my soul (in my soul)/ I’m on the edge of something breaking/ I feel my mind is slowly fading/ If I keep going, I won’t make it,” he sings softly.

Lively! I feel like I’ve entered a door that wasn’t meant to be open. The drums are slow and menacing. I like how The Weeknd has chosen to return to his mixtape style of mixing. His vocals aren’t pop clean like they were on ‘StarBoy’.

He’s much more authentic, singing from the wreckage of broken hearts and not the comfort of his home. The song is dramatic but enticing. I like this feels like it’s collapsing. The music, much like his singing, is manifesting the idea of a crumbling love. It’s like he’s hurt or has hurt someone, which has lead to everything falling apart.

5. Hurt You

The second collaboration with Gesaffelstein is reminiscent of classic Abel.

“Hurt You” sees The Weeknd demonstrating his wide-ranging singing abilities here more than any other track on the EP. The artist warns another woman to keep her distance, as he’s not truly in love with her despite their sexual past.

“‘Cause all the nights you slept alone dryin’ your eyes/ And all the nights you thought about taking your life/ ‘Cause if it’s love you want again, don’t waste your time,” he quips. “But if you call me up, I’m fucking you on sight.”

The Weeknd starts the song by saying relationships are his enemy. I can understand one or two failed flames, but to consider all relationships a nemesis is drastic. The most uptempo song on the EP yet the lyrics are still dreary and somber. This EP will give old fans a reason to rejoice. There’s so much nostalgia in all this new music. This might be the first song where people will actually be crying in the club as they dance to the lyrics “I don’t want to hurt you.” He passionately repeats them in a higher tone vocal so you feel every word.

6. Privilege

“Privilege” takes the honors as the outro of ‘My Dear Melancholy,’ and clocks in at under three minutes.

The talented singer-songwriter makes an intelligent reference to The Matrix scene of taking a red or blue pill.The drugs seem to symbolize how people can medicate themselves to lose touch with reality.

“They said our love is just a game, I don’t care what they say/ But I’ma drink the pain away, I’ll be back to my old ways/ And I got two red pills to take the blues away,” he mournfully concludes.

This last song again has a soft opening with muted keys. As though the vocals were recorded while someone played the piano in the far background. “Enjoy your privileged life.” the artist sings ‘My Dear Melancholy,’ is undoubtedly an EP born from a breakup. It’s gloomy and filled with the fresh wound of a love lost. The mentioning of pills alludes to the stage of the breakup where you over-consumed by your vices. He’s trying to drink it away, but as we all that that only makes situations worse. The production is very stripped-down and his voice is the main focus. This is not just an outro to the EP but it is simultaneously the final goodbye to a relationship.

21 minutes is a small window of time for an artist to make a statement, but there’s a lot to like in the brief EP.

Unlike ‘Starboy’, ‘My Dear Melancholy,’ doesn’t overwhelm with a broad palette of sounds and styles. It’s musically cohesive. The Weeknd’s songwriting stays with the theme of stray from regret, remorse, and reflection. The muses who inspired these songs truly left a mark on him. Although unlike his previous works there are not boasts about himself but rather a method of coping. The Weeknd is hurt, and he is not afraid to show that.

Although ‘My Dear Melancholy,’ can be considered as the return of old The Weeknd since that same nostalgic vibe is very present, it’s not comparable to ‘House of Balloons’ or ‘Echoes of Silence’. But The Weeknd still return to the late night and meaningless drives in the rain. It’s where he found fame and where he built his kingdom. This is where Abel’s music has always thrived.

Cover Image Courtesy of The Weeknd (@theweeknd)

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