Alec Reviews Music: The Weeknd’s ‘Starboy’ transcends genres as one of the best records in 2016

Alec Erickson

In the craziness that is Black Friday, thousands spend their time trying to find all the best deal for the holiday season. In that mass confusion, there was one record that may have flown under some people’s radar. One singer/songwriter who has taken over the mainstream with his soulful and unique style released his latest project. That’s right, The Weeknd released his third-studio album “Starboy,” and it manages to overcome the boundaries of genre, making it one of the strongest records of the year.

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Abél Makkonen Tesfaye is more commonly known by his stage name The Weeknd. Based out of Toronto, he is a relative new comer in the music scene. The Weeknd has really only been performing since around 2010. It wasn’t even until the release of his second studio-album “Beauty Behind the Madness” that he reached mainstream success. It is not hard to find a radio station playing “Can’t Feel My Face” or “The Hills.” With the record reaching number one in the states, it was only a matter of time before a follow up record would be released. Now, only a year later, we finally have the highly anticipated “Starboy.”

“Starboy” is an 18 track record that clocks out to be around one hour and nine minutes long. In true The Weeknd fashion, it is one incredibly well produced album from front to back. There is plenty of upbeat club tracks to dance along to, as well as a few chill and mellow tracks that are perfect to relax with. There is also a big spotlight on some of the features. While The Weeknd’s vocals are strong enough to carry this record on his own, guest spots from Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar and even Daft Punk showcase why he is such a strong musician.

Musically, there is a lot to be admired with “Starboy.” In a lot of cases, it is sometimes the best aspect of the whole record. Whether it is the 80s inspired synth pop that you can find in tracks like the lead “Starboy” or the guitar riffs that really hit home in the Kendrick track “Sidewalks,” there is something for everyone here. Bass and drums play a huge role in the entire record, arguably even more so than some of his past work.

There is a lot of recombination going on. There are some more funk and soul tones in this record rather than R&B, which a lot more apparent in tracks like “A Lonely Night,” which pales in comparison to “Attention.” Both tracks serve as some of the standouts, but it really is hard to find a bad track on this record. Although, you can argue that there is a bit too much auto tune needed. While this may be debatable, depending on your taste, it does not detract from the overall record. Musically speaking though, this record is mixed extremely well, and if you and your crew need a club banger track, chances are something off of “Starboy” will be in your rotation.

The Weeknd - Starboy.jpg
Photo Courtesy: iTunes

Lyrically, it is all about the delivery. If you have ever listened to The Weeknd before than you will know this is something that isn’t that hard for him. Some tracks have incredibly catchy hooks and some choruses that have notes you wouldn’t think are possible to hit, yet The Weeknd hits them every single time. Tracks like “Loves to Lay” will have you missing the summer season, while “Secrets” will have you getting all emotional. I can’t emphasize just how diverse this record is in all aspects. Like I mentioned before though, there are some tracks that might have been better off without the auto tune. The one track in this category that really just feels way to out of place is “False Alarm,” which in true campy fashion has that hook that just repeats “Hey! Hey! Hey!” But, it was the only track that really knocked me out of the whole experience.

Should you listen to it?: YES!

This is one of those records I shouldn’t have to try too hard to convince you to listen to. The Weeknd has always been a stellar musician, and if you want to sleep on “Starboy” that is your loss. While it may feel a bit out of place going into December with the number of summer time club tracks, it is one of those records that keeps bringing you back in to listen again and again. I can honestly say it is one of those records that you really begin to appreciate more with each and every listen. While it may not be groundbreaking or trendsetting, it is one of the most refreshing and unique records to have dropped this year.