The trilogy is complete. This time, let’s start off with the download.
And for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, keep reading. The Weeknd is a neo-R&B – a term made up right here, right now, by yours truly! – artist that has exploded this year. Gaining buzz near the end of 2010 when some of his songs were leaked on to the Internet, his popularity quickly grew, due in fact both to his unique and fresh style, mixed with his mysterious identity – initially details of who were behind the project were unknown. He released the first of his trilogy of mixtapes, House of Balloons in March, commencing his massive increase in popularity. This was aided in part by rapper Drake quoting lines off the song Wicked Games – the two went on to become OVOXO – OVO representing Drake and his crew, and XO being The Weeknd’s label.
House of Balloons was fantastic. The sounds were gorgeous and lush, all linking in to a dark, dark atmosphere. Every track was expressive and longing, often with dirty lyrical themes. Tracks High For This, Wicked Games and others were stand outs.
Thursday was the followup to House of Balloons. Though overall as strong as his first mixtape, it still had a couple gems on it – and as someone who saw him perform live, I can attest that tracks that may have sounded bland recorded came to life in performance, becoming fuller – and indeed, more fulfilling. I personally think he should have just cashed out with an album after Thursday, but a trilogy was what he promised, and what he gave…
…which leads us to the conclusion: Echoes of Silence. This mixtape brings the same very chill atmosphere of the previous mixtapes. However this time, the electronics are stripped away, and The Weeknd shows that, asides from singing, he can throw off quickfire rhymes. This is a collection of ballads. The mixtape starts off with a surprise cover of Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana. The track is a smooth version, with his voice,alternate take, and different production elements mixing in to make an enjoyable cover. Montreal, one of the strongest tracks on the album, follows. After the next track, Outside, track four, XO/The Host becomes more spirited, and blends an enjoyable hook with muted, hard guitar chords. When the song transitions into The Host, you may feel like you’ve left Earth and gone in to orbit. The mix between the ethereal production and vocals – the latter of which has become The Weeknd’s trademark – is one that he makes work. The next track is one that was released in early October, Initiation. Featuring screwed vocals, the track is another great one on the mixtape. Then comes Same Old Song, and then The Fall. After those two comes Next – a beautiful piano driven song that defines the word ballad, and probably one of my favourite tracks on the tape. The album closes out with Echoes of Silence. Another piano ballad, featuring The Weeknd’s soaring vocals, the track is a fitting end to a mixtape that sounds exactly like what a tape with the name ‘Echoes of Silence’ should sound like.
All of The Weeknd’s mixtapes are available on his website, http://www.the-weeknd.com.
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