The Weeknd’s March 30 release, My Dear Melancholy, explores the hip-hop heartbreaker’s deeply personal reflections on love. As the title suggests, The Weeknd finds himself in a rut with depressed lyrics and slow, yearning beats on the six track EP. The punctuation of the title cleverly addresses the collective works to an unnamed party, causing many social media users to assume The Weeknd is airing his pent up emotions about recent relationships with Selena Gomez and Bella Hadid.
The Weeknd opens his letter to an estranged lover with sultry bass digs and building vocals on “Call Out My Name.” The song opens with an elegant drowned out piano progression and the bare vocals of the talented singer. A robust pronunciation of the song’s namesake drops the beat, which is overtly reminiscent of the slow beat of “Earned It” with hard-stopping bass. Vying for his beloved’s attention, The Weeknd cries out “I want you to stay even though you don’t want me” over a tapping drum before the song fades into a mix of tunneled voices and sounds.
“Try Me” takes on a slightly more upbeat tone with a a quick synthetic tapping beat and optimistic lyrics. The Weeknd tests the new relationship of his ex, threatening “Well, I’m not tryna break up something / You’ve been workin’ out, you’ve been steady / But I’m ready to go all the way if you let me / Don’t you tempt me.” The song’s bridge features simple repetition of “Lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo,” an empty phrase that contributes little to the already creatively lacking lyricism of the EP but ties the song together nonetheless.
The Weeknd gets his stride back on “Wasted Times.” Produced by Skrillex, the beat meshes sliding clicks with spraying flourishes during the chorus that repeats “I ain’t got no business catchin’ feelings.” The Weeknd includes obvious allusions to the identity of the recipient of his feelings with the borderline raunchy lyric “You were equestrian, so ride it like a champion.” Despite the upbeat tone of “Wasted Times,” The Weeknd dreads the mornings he wakes up without his equestrian companion by his side for the song’s outro.
“I Was Never There” finds The Weeknd’s distant voice traveling along with the sound of blaring sirens throughout. A techno breakdown with crystallizing keyboard work during the bridge creates a dire sense of despair as the heartbroken hip-hop artists doubts his chances of survival—the line “If I keep going, I won’t make it” is repeated as the bridge fades into the outro.
The siren sounds of “I Was Never There” carry over into “Hurt You,” a cautionary track from My Dear Melancholy,. The Weekend matches the high pitch of the striking sound to showcase his expansive vocal range on the song’s chorus, which repeats “I don’t wanna hurt you.” The soulful singer does not stray from his sultry styling for the track either, graphically detailing his plans to seduce the song’s subject. The Weeknd playfully complements the song’s fast beat with ‘oh’s as the song fades out into sirens and silence.
My Dear Melancholy, reaches a dramatic peak on “Privilege,” the final track of the six song EP. A steady piano beat composes the track’s simple opening and carries the beat through a range of synthetic experimentation. Hollow clicks and distant autotuning create a somber mood for the outro track that details The Weeknd’s unhealthy coping mechanisms, including copious doses of sex, alcohol, and drugs. The singer creates a clever play on words with the line “I got two red pills to take the blues away.”
The Weeknd presents solid and cynical breakup tracks on My Dear Melancholy, but retreats to recycled beats and trite themes for the short EP. While the singer satisfies with his signature sultry sounds and risque lyricism, he falls short of the production innovation of his 2016 album Starboy and leaves listeners with a sense of melancholic monotony.
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