×

Music Review: The Weeknd’s EP ‘My Dear Melancholy,’

Almost seven years to the day after the release of The Weeknd’s galvanizing debut mixtape, “House of Balloons” — an outing that basically created the dark-alt-R&B sound that so many artists have built careers on — the prolific Abel Tesfaye says hello to darkness, his old friend on a new six-song/22-minute EP whose title is pure truth in advertising: “My Dear Melancholy,” (and that’s not a typo — the official title includes a comma at the end, like the beginning of a letter).

True to its sort-of surprise arrival — it was teased, fairly obviously, in the week leading up to its release — the outing feels like an interlude in a career that’s already featured several big statements and changes of direction. There are no blockbuster hit singles like “I Can’t Feel My Face” or “Starboy,” but the melodic directness and Michael Jackson vocalisms of those songs is here, just buried under clouds of sad synthesizers and downcast beats — for example, a peppy remix could transform “Hurt You” into a shiny suit rather than the dark hoodie it’s wearing here.

Unlike his early work, “Melancholy” is more of a Weeknd take on crying-in-your-beer ballads than existential brooding. And with lyrics like “I don’t want to wake up if you’re not laying next to me”; “I’mma drink the pain away, I’ll be back to my old ways”; “We said our last goodbyes, so let’s just try to end it with a smile,” approximately 23 minutes after “Melancholy” dropped, the Internet was alight with wonderers wondering whether these songs are post-Selena/Bella breakup ballads.

We’ll leave that to them, but musically the album features several previous collaborators (Cirkut, Daheala, Mike Will Made It, Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo) as well as co-executive producer and fellow Canadian Frank Dukes (Frank Ocean, Camila Cabello, one track on “Starboy”), Skrillex, French producer Gesaffelstein and Chilean broodmaster Nicolas Jaar. All help bring in the darkness, although their contributions aren’t instantly recognizable and meld into The Weeknd’s overall vibe. (There’s also a hook that sounds like the crazy theme from Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” — that wailing screech when the picture blanches and Uma Thurman has a dark flashback — grafted into “I Was Never There.”)

So as best can be told in a morning-after hot take, “My Dear Melancholy,” feels more like a transition, a way station on the journey to wherever The Weeknd is going next — and it’s a credit to this prolific and ever-evolving artist that he manages to be creatively restless and never stay in the same place for long while always sounding unmistakably like himself.

  1. Call Out My Name (prod. Frank Dukes)
  2. Try Me (prod. Mike WiLL Made-It, Marz, Frank Dukes & Daheala)
  3. Wasted Times (prod. (Frank Dukes; co-produced by Skrillex)
  4. I Was Never There (prod. Gesaffelstein & Frank Dukes)
  5. Hurt You (prod. Gesaffelstein, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo; co-produced by Cirkut)
  6. Privilege (prod. Frank Dukes & Daheala)

Music Review: The Weeknd's EP 'My Dear Melancholy,'

More Music

  • Sebastian Maniscalco

    Sebastian Maniscalco to Host MTV VMAs

    MTV has announced that comedian, actor and best-selling author Sebastian Maniscalco will host the 2019 “VMAs” live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, Aug. 26. Last year, Maniscalco published his best selling book “Stay Hungry,” followed by a stand up tour of the same name. The comedian has also sold out [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Fire Plot Thickens as New York Times Uncovers List of Affected Artists

    Lawsuits have been filed asking the Universal Music Group to come up with a complete accounting of recordings lost in the 2008 fire on the studio lot that destroyed untold thousands of master recordings, and UMG is unlikely to comply with those requests soon, for any number of practical or legal reasons. But the New [...]

  • BTS - J-Hope, V, Jungkook, Jimin,

    BTS' 'Bring the Soul: The Movie' Gets Global Theatrical Release

    BTS will be back on the big screen this summer. The Korean pop group announced today that their latest feature film, “Bring the Soul: The Movie,” will have a global release on August 7. It arrives just six and a half months after the septet’s last film release, “Love Yourself in Seoul.” “Bring the Soul” [...]

  • Cardi B Indictment

    Cardi B Pleads Not Guilty to New Charges Stemming From Bar Fight

    Cardi B and two co-defendants pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges Tuesday in regards to a Queens bar fight in August of last year. Originally only charged with misdemeanors, the rapper (whose original name is Belcalis Almanzar) was later indicted with two felony counts of attempted assault on Friday after denying a plea [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler Set for Special Performance at New York Pride (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler is set to appear at New York’s Pride Main Event this Saturday (June 29) at the Javits Center. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, she’ll perform a song accompanied by composer Marc Shaiman, of “Hairspray” and “Mary Poppins Returns” fame. Her stage time is set for 11 p.m. Also scheduled to [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs For Screens: Labrinth on Scoring HBO’s Drake-Produced Drama 'Euphoria'

    British singer-songwriter Labrinth (née Timothy Lee McKenzie) has been having one of the biggest years of his nearly decade-long career, from the April release of his collaborative album with L.S.D. (a.k.a. Labrinth Sia & Diplo) to his starring role in the latest campaign for MINI, where he reinterprets Cole Porter’s cowboy classic “Don’t Fence Me [...]

  • Grammy Awards 60th Annual Grammy Awards,

    Grammy Nomination Announcements Bumped Up to Nov. 20

    In accordance with the entire schedule for the Grammys being bumped up to avoid a conflict with the Oscars in 2020, a date has been set for the announcement of the nominees later this year: Nov. 20. That’s 17 days ahead of the Dec. 7 date when the previous slate of Grammy nominations was released [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content