Starboy

So I’ve sorta changed my mind on this whole new “Starboy” direction the Weeknd’s going. Not drastically, mind you – song’s still good – but I have my problems with the new image. Serious problems. Here: I don’t much like that it’s a change of aesthetic as opposed to a change of vision, or a maturity. Now, that’s necessarily a bad thing; “Starboy” inevitably grew on me, mostly because of Daft Punk’s kickass production. I’m a sucker for a good bass riff and crisp, danceable drumbeats. I love the first 15 seconds; a rise of feedback, pummeling straight into a knock of subbass, percussion beginning its enthralling tip-tap rhythm. Perfect. Then he starts singing and… well, it’s OK, I guess. I’m still not crazy about the guy’s helium voice, but it’s alright here. Tolerable. And eye-roll lyrics aside, it simply sounds marvelous. My problem is that this is simply the most vapid the Weeknd’s ever been. It’s all style over substance. “Starboy” is the same ol’ Weeknd we knew circa 2015, but now he’s dressed up with more normal hair and black leather. Classic “bad boy” image, played unconvincingly, what with his squeaky voice and inane lyrics. And lyrics always been a problem with Weeknd songs, ’cause they’re either unbelievable or disingenuous. He’s had to rely on production since his career began. Oh, and frankly I’m unenthused with “False Alarm,” mostly because it signals exactly what I’ve expected from the album: diving even further into pop, this time trying out what’s essentially a lame EDM song with the Weeknd’s voice grafted annoyingly onto it. It’s a lazy and blatantly commercial move for sure, and not one that makes me look forward to hearing the 17-track product it comes from. Let’s pray it turns out decent – I don’t want another Beauty Behind the Madness.

A-

for “Starboy,” and

C+

for “False Alarm.”

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