We haven’t heard too much from Abel Tesfaye, AKA The Weeknd, since he dropped his surprise EP ‘My Dear Melancholy’ in March 2018 (if you discount that unlikely Game of Thrones-themed collaboration with Travis Scott and SZA, of course).
That fittingly wistful release saw Tesfaye re-embracing those tried-and-tested themes of heartbreak and longing that fans first became enamoured with through his break-out trio of mixtapes back in 2011. Eschewing for the most part big-name guest features (bar the likes of Skrillex and Daft Punk‘s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo on production), ‘My Dear Melancholy’ was a cohesive and reflective collection of Weeknd tracks that put a vulnerable Tesfaye front and centre without relying too much on the glitz and glamour which saw ‘Starboy’ strut its stuff in 2016.
The arrival this week of not one but two new Weeknd tunes has lead to talk of a follow-up to the star-studded ‘Starboy’ being primed for a 2020 release. Judging by the knockout one-two punch of ‘Heartless’ and ‘Blinding Lights’, The Weeknd appears to have left his introspection behind just in time to come out swinging into the new year.
‘Heartless’, which dropped on Wednesday, sees Tesfaye linking up with acclaimed hip-hop producer Metro Boomin (Drake, Travis Scott, Kanye West) for the first time since they worked together on the ‘Starboy’ track ‘Six Feet Under’. Living up to the latter part of his moniker, Metro Boomin brings earth-shattering bass and some of his biggest beats to the party as, in Tesfaye’s words, he “turns this ho into a moshpit” – a clear suggestion that The Weeknd expects you to rage to your heart’s content at his next live show. Put your tissues away, people.
Rumours that the song addresses Tesfaye’s on-again-off-again relationship with Bella Hadid have already sent showbiz gossip pages and comment sections into a frenzy, with the lines “You just came back in my life/You never gave up on me (Why don’t you?)” providing ample fodder for such speculation. There’s a definite swagger to The Weeknd’s latest guise, with braggy references to “dodgin’ death in the six speed” and dabbling in amphetamines before he declares that he’s “tryna be a better man, but I’m heartless“. And, if you didn’t get the message, he follows it up with a “low life for life ’cause I’m heartless“. LL4LYF.
Track number two ‘Blinding Lights’, dropped in the early hours of this morning (November 29) to double the fun. Reuniting once again with super-producer Max Martin – the pair co-wrote the smash hit ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ in 2015 – the beats pack slightly less of a punch than on ‘Heartless’, but the bright, synth-driven electro-pop makes for an insistent listen that’ll surely result in it soaring up to the upper echelons of the pop and R&B charts (yes, those are still a thing).
Oh, and that trademark Weeknd longing for a lover? It’s back, baby! “Sin City’s cold and empty,” he muses while on his tod in Las Vegas. “No one’s around to judge me/I can’t see clearly when you’re gone“. What, you thought Abel was done being in his feelings? Never.
With singles as strong as this, The Weeknd’s upcoming fourth album already feels destined for success – and we’re excited to see what else he has in store for us on LP4. Happy Abel New Year, everyone!