Following just five months after their first mixtape appeared to almost deafening media buzz, The Weeknd are back with another one.
Despite massive hype verging on mainstream acceptance (“High for This” made it to a promo for HBO’s Entourage) and being favorited by just about everyone with ears and an internet connection (a recent live appearance in Toronto inspired stadium-worthy singalongs from the audience), The Weeknd have maintained an air of inscrutable mystery. [Though we now know there’s a guy named Abel Tesfaye at the helm, working with two associate producers.] Not an easy feat in our info-ravenous age, where the hottest thing is discovered, hyped, investigated, torn apart and discarded in a matter of weeks in anticipation of the next hot thing.
So it would appear that The Weeknd are working hard to ride the wave of hype, quickly releasing another sex-and-drugs-obsessed nine-song collection with similar cover art (I’ve always been a sucker for a well-articulated theme).
Thursday doesn’t stray far at all from the template established on House of Balloons: slick-but-skewed contemporary R&B with a thick and delicious late-night atmosphere, desperate come-on vocals, and drug references. Though the shock of the new is definitely gone, this is still very rewarding listening with more than a few surprises, like the metallic guitars that introduce “Life of the Party” (one of the best tracks here), rap superstar Drake‘s guest verse towards the end of “The Zone,” and the bracing martial drums on “The Birds Part 1” that make way for Part 2’s moody heavy-reverb guitar worthy of a David Lynch movie.
Thursday definitely feels like a House of Balloons sequel, and like all good sequels, there are a few more well-timed explosions.