The Weeknd is an unconventional RnB singer (similar to artists like Drake and Frank Ocean) who came to the music scene around the start of 2011 by offering a free mixtape to the public, titled 'House of Balloons'. It was a rather unknown release at the time, but word of mouth spread about this eerie but hauntingly beautiful body of work. As a free album the production values were just as good, if not better, than a commercial album, and its themes of betrayal, sex and drugs over hynoptic, indie-sampled beats combined with arguably his strong asset - his clear, resonating falsetto - made for one of the best rnb releases in recent memory. This is an artist that has set out his own genre and redefined it to create his own beautiful, haunting sound. Two more mixtapes later, and an increase in hype and popularity, we now have this new reissue containing remastered versions of all the songs in his mixtapes, as well as three brand new songs. In general the remastered versions are very nice indeed, and if you've already treated yourself to his free mixtapes, you'll find that the songs sound fuller, without ruining the feel of the original versions.
Since 'Trilogy' is essentially three albums with three new tracks, I will review them individually and then as a complete body of music. This is so that those who have never heard of the Weeknd's music can get an understanding of his music. However, I highly recommend you listen to this album from start to finish; it's sheer brilliance and creativity is something that new listeners will be taken aback to. It's unlike anything you've heard.
House of Balloons - the first mixtape and arguably the best in terms of scope, roundness and originality. The album starts off with 'High For This', which is a strong way of introducing what music is to come. When the dubstep influences come in, you can't help but feel this 'high' that he is channeling to us through his music. 'What You Need' brings this back down with a chilled feel, and its slow, spaced-out beat is relaxing. 'House of Balloon/Glass Table Girls' is a rather bouncy track with erratic-styled sampling and its transition halfway is unnerving and unexpected, but works so well. 'The Morning' makes you feel exactly that - waking up from a wild, drug-fuelled night. The synths and the eventual beat during the chorus is lovingly hypnotic. The centrepiece of the album is by far 'Wicked Games', a desperate, bass-guitar heavy track about a girl who cannot love him. What makes the track so brilliant is the extremely dark, obsessive lyrics hidden within the undeniably catchy chorus of harmonies. Sampling Beach House, 'The Party & The After Party' is a beautifully long track with perfectly timed beats and singing. 'Coming Down' is a reverb heavy track that sounds just as intoxicating as its title. 'Loft Music' is another favourite of mine that also samples another Beach House track. The melody is used wonderfully, with a head-bopping beat. However the best thing about this is the outro, consisting of haunting, hallow whines and painfully emotional singing. You can feel how passionate he is throughout the whole thing. It lasts for a good 3 minutes, but you just don't want it to stop. 'The Knowing' is a great final song, and The Weeknd sings as though it is near the end of the world. It's deep but powerful at the same time. Bonus track 'Twenty Eight' fits like a glove at the end of this album - "I'm so wrong, I'm so wrong...to let you in my house" - as the chorus is so disturbing but you can't help but appreciate how intelligent these lyrics are. Heartbreak is an issue that the The Weeknd can express so well, almost too well in relation to his songwriting.
Thursday - The second mixtape in his 'Trilogy', begins with 'Lonely Star', which is quite rocky in nature but still manages to capture his sound. It's a very harsh track to listen to. I love the ending of it, where he just sings so softly into the next song on the album. 'Life Of The Party' starts with a girl saying quietly, 'I love the guitars', and then we are unexpectedly shoved into this creepy track with a great chorus and melody. 'Thursday' makes me think of a rainy, depressing day - but the Weeknd's singing really shines on this (although his singing on every other track cannot be understated in any shape or form). 'The Zone' is a beautifully layered track that does not sound too dissimilar to production from The XX. It has an almost heartbeat-like quality throughout - it's one of his best songs. The highlight though goes to when the song starts to fade but then Drake comes on to give a brilliant verse. It's timed so masterfully that I can't imagine the song without his feature. 'The Birds Part 1' is a monster of a track, with a chant-like chorus and marching beats. This is led to 'The Birds Part 2' which is radically different to Part 1; there's a utter sense of emergency throughout it: "Now she bleeding, she's on the floor...she's on the floor"; but this is offset by the playfulness of the song. 'Gone' is a long track filled with techno/electro influences and has an transition in the middle where the beat changes but it still manages to attract your attention in this 8 minute long track. 'Rolling Stone' is the highlight on 'Thursday'. It's simple, minimalistic production, with a guitar melody and occasional, rapid drums leads to The Weeknd's vocals taking center stage - you can really hear how powerful his falsetto sounds towards the end. It's rich in tone and beautiful to listen to. 'Heaven or Las Vegas' is a nice, if a little unmemorable, way to end 'Thursday', although yet again his vocals steal the show. The bonus track 'Valerie' at the end of this album is another example of his utter complexity and brilliance - his vocals in many parts sound exactly like the late Michael Jackson - and I don't say that often, if at all.
Echoes of Silence - his last mixtape and a fitting way to end the trilogy. It starts with 'D.D', and before you are left wondering what this title stands for, it hits you that he is covering an MJ song. It's a terrific take on a classic and he makes it his own. Again, he sounds like MJ - it's like he is channeling his voice from the dead but put his own modern twist to it. It leads on 'Montreal' - a melodic, breathy track with a strong beat and a french chorus. It's so listenable. It transitions perfectly to 'Outside', a oriental-sounding track and a great eerie chorus. 'XO/The Host' is another song that contains essentially two tracks - dark, funky, synth-ridden, but things get even darker when The Host comes on. But it's a great way to introduce the next track, 'Initiation' - possibly The Weeknd's most uncomfortable song to listen to (but in a brilliant way). The song is filled with unexpected pitch changes and unsettling production, and is unlike any other Weeknd song in terms of production. 'Same Old Song' has a chilled feel to it, but is a bit weak compared to standard he's set with other songs. Thankfully this is forgiven by 'The Fall' - Clams Casino did a great job with production here - the creepiness positively leaks at every second of it - the handclaps make the song extremely dark and its undertones are disturbingly good. The ending of the song is nice too. 'The Next' is depressing song but represents the Weeknd as strong as he's ever portrayed himself as. It ends with 'Echoes of Silence', putting the album on a retrospective downer. But it shows his true emotion in his voice - which is ultimately his main asset and strength. The bonus track 'Till Dawn (Here Comes the Sun) is another awesome bonus track that also fits with the feel of EoS - it proves his unique voice and cements him as one of the strongest new artists today.
As a whole body of work, this is an essential listen and purchase. It's not just for RnB fans but fans of music in general. If you can't appreciate how good this collection of music is (at a very respectable price of 30 songs), then it's highly likely that you have very poor taste in music. If you've never listened to him, just start from the beginning to the end. The amount of emotions you will go through - sadness, happiness, euphoria, loneliness, redemption - represents a rare musical journey you will not feel with many albums these days. It's extraordinary, relentless and an obviously bold music statement that everyone should get the chance to listen to.
I was a massive fan of R&B, from some great commercial artists (Destiny's Child, Donnell Jones, Mary J Blige) to the more lesser known (Mona Lisa, JazzyFatNastees, Amerie) and the more serious (D'Angelo, Maxwell & Jill Scott).
For a while I fell out of love with R&B as everything sounded so contrived and there was nothing fresh happening but then one or two artists would always get me excited at the possibilities of the much maligned genre.
I loved Janelle Monae's audaciously funky 2011 ArchAndroid album. Raw and unfettered by commercial viability, it changed the scene for a lot of artists.
But one album I never saw coming was The Weeknd's Trilogy. I came to this album fresh and saw it in a top 10 list of albums. Never having heard of The Weeknd I was very skeptical - back in the day an R&B album on more than one CD was either a naff compilation with a lot of filler or a bootleg!
After the first listen of the first disc a few songs struck out immediately as fresh, soulful and exciting. House Of Balloons/Glass Tables is just daring, brash and sublime enough to be the best track on the album and sets the tone at which The Weeknd works.
On first listen the lyrics can sound a little immature and gratuitous with profanity. But this is one of those albums that grows on you with each listen and becomes so listenable that you appreciate the cockiness this young man has from the sheer musicality, vocal talents and lyrics. As he says `He's only 21...' but he is the best R&B artist out there right now.
This is a permanent fixture in my iPhone/iPod and CD Players at home as it is so varied and beautiful. I would have it on in the car too but the profanity ain't for my young kids ears!
Best tracks: High For This House Of Balloons/Glass Tables The Morning Coming Down Twenty Eight Lonely Star Life Of The Party Thursday The Zone Birds Pt1 Rolling Stone Heaven Or Las Vegas D.D. Montreal Outside XO/The Host Initiation Same Old Song The Fall Next Till Dawn (Here Comes The Sun)
I urge you to buy, not from amazon £15 - other sellers have it for around £7 - asap! You will not be disappointed.
I hate people doing Michael Jackson covers but even there Weeknd's cover of Dirty Diana - D.D. - is exceptional.
Sexy , soulful, smart, modern, Maxwell, D'Angelo, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding....if you like any of this stuff you will love this album and I would certainly put this fellow up there but probably more prolific than many of these R&B legends...Read more ›
Even if youve followed this lad since the house of balloons free download buzz get this you will notice the differences with remastering and tightened basslines and production. Worth buying even if youre not bothered just for the additional songs.
As for the three parts,my opinion hasnt changed with house of balloons greatly overshadowing the other two as a complete body of work. Nevertheless, thursday and echoes are still top quality and much better than anything out there.
As much as abel gets the props, you cant front on doc mckinney and others' contributions.
The weeknd is another stellar act showing r&b's evolution reflecting our more integrated and openminded tastes sonically.
I can't say enough good things about The Weeknd. This is One (well 3) of the best albums I own. His voice is amazing and his songs are just beautiful. Songs like 'Rolling Stone' and 'Twenty Eight' are just amazing. And there is even a MJ cover on it!