Leading up to the release of Starboy, Abél Tesfaye (The Weeknd) had a fair amount of hype to fill in order to match the hits that were presented on his previous albums, especially from the global sensations on Beauty Behind the Madness, which features Tell Your Friends and Can’t Feel My Face.
With his latest release, The Weeknd manages to keep the energy alive and flourishing in an array of tracks that arguably add up to be some his greatest works but leaves a bland taste with its extraneous list of filler tracks and uninspired lyrics.
Starting with the opening song, Starboy takes the cake for being one of the top singles of 2016. While it is debatable where it ranks among the rest of Abél’s hits, the fluid verses and addictive chorus present the perfect lead into the record. Not to mention, the production from Daft Punk adds in subtle accents that help to set the bar for what a fine-tuned pop song should sound like.
Other great songs that mirror the title track in ambition and style include Rockin’, a more house-inspired dance track that blends perfectly into “Secrets”, which takes a look at The Weeknd’s lower register and pairs it with a contrasting tone-bended synth. Love to Lay starts out with a slightly boring verse, but climaxes into one of my favorite melodies on this album, with a really great chorus to sing along to.
Sidewalks (feat. Kendrick Lamar) is the pinnacle track on this record and does not retain that status simply because Kendrick has a quality verse, but for Abél’s soulful falsettos that take his sound into a realm that should be explored deeper on future releases. Not to mention, the lyrics of this piece show that The Weeknd is capturing more introspective themes than the usual nightlife rhetoric.
While the majority of the songs on this album are quite good, “majority” tends to lose its magnitude when there are eighteen songs in total. There are several moments on this release where tracks will sound great back-to-back, but some of the places in-between these tracks are mundane and admittedly unnecessary.
One of the biggest letdowns of this album comes from the third track titled False Alarm, which in all of its ironic glory is an accurate description. The song starts itself at an incredibly fast pace but loses momentum within the first ten seconds and then attempts to regain itself through an unexpected shriek, but is engulfed in so many effects that it comes across as cliche and too over-the-top for its own good.
Other inexcusable places on this album include the track that features Future, which is so uninteresting that it is worth skipping even on the second listen. In fact, this album also takes the cake for wasting the most features of any 2016 release, especially for the interlude with Lana Del Rey that seems like nothing more than product placement for a public figure.
Aside from the pleasant exception mentioned earlier on the track Sidewalks, the lyrics of this album bring nothing new to the table. That being said if the listener is a fan of the typical subjects throughout The Weeknd’s discography, then no disappointment should be felt here.
Overall, Starboy is by no means a bad album and actually contains some of the best work that The Weeknd has put out yet. Unfortunately, quantity was favored this time around and the obvious filler tracks hold the rest of the amazing singles back to an almost unfair level. Had this record have been ten-twelve tracks long, the reception would be much different. My honest opinion of this album is a 6.8/10