The Weeknd – “My Dear Melancholy” Review

Jake Yencik, Writer

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Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known by his stage name “The Weeknd” has been making waves in the music community consistently for the last 6 years.  His newest EP, “My Dear Melancholy” is his first Extended Play, with 6 emotionally intense and soulful tracks from The Weeknd. For a short history, The Weeknd released three mixtapes on YouTube in 2010, which all gained large popularity on the internet.  This lead to him releasing the three together on his first major label release “Trilogy” in 2012. This was followed up by three full length albums, “Kiss Land” in 2013, “Beauty Behind The Madness” in 2015, and “Starboy” in 2016. Abel did not release any music in 2017 and “My Dear Melancholy” is his first release of 2018.

The new EP was presumed by most to be based off of Abel’s relationship with Selena Gomez, which lasted from January 2017 to October 2017.  After their relationship came to an end, Selena began another relationship with her on and off ex Justin Bieber. This is most likely what prompted The Weeknd to write these 6 tracks released in April of 2018.  The EP is a step in a different direction for Abel. His last three full lengths, which all gained great amounts of radio airplay worldwide were typically dealing with different subject matter. Many of his radio hits from the last two albums dealt subjectively with things like drug addiction, strictly sexual relationships, fame, and being rich.  This EP was the first in many years to bring back very dark emotions and deal with relationships and love lyrically.

Many compared this release to much of Abel’s earlier work such as “Trilogy” and “Kiss Land” in which he was more focused on darker and depressing themes.  This is definitely something I agree with, as every song on this EP delivers heart-wrenching emotion derived from a past relationship. This spawned a great number of memes on Twitter depicting the emotional impact it has on the listener.  Perhaps the most admirable quality of these six tracks is that they seem to be from complete honesty. Many artists have praised The Weeknd for not selling a false image or attempting to glorify what happens in his life, and they have a great point.  Every lyric from every track is based off of Abel’s raw emotion, with the track “Call Out My Name” making a reference to how he almost donated a kidney to Selena Gomez because of her life-threatening medical issues in 2017. Another thing I very much enjoyed from “My Dear Melancholy” is the production, many big names worked on this EP ranging from Skrillex and Mike Will Made It to The Weeknd himself.  Every song sounds very full while still maintaining a chilling and melancholy (no pun intended) vibe. Many songs contain the same screechy and haunting synth melody, pitch shifted to fit the key of each track. This helps to merge the songs together better than they already do.

However, while being a very enjoyable release, it does have its flaws.  The main thing I would point out is that many of the chord progressions and vocal melodies sound re-used.  Even if they are clearly not the exact same, a quick look at the YouTube comments for tracks like “Try Me” and “Call Out My Name” reveal that I’m definitely not the only one to notice this.  One of the melodies has a striking resemblance to The Weeknd’s 2015 Billboard #3 hit “Earned It.” Another thing I would point out is that Abel has yet to do something truly different with much of his newer work.  Even though we haven’t heard this dark and depressing side of his music in years, it sounds not far off from his older work and it would be great to hear something new, unique, and experimental from Abel. Despite these flaws, I think every album has its ups and downs and I still very much liked this album and think it’s for sure one of The Weeknd’s better releases.  If I had to rate it out of 10 I would probably give it between a 6.5 and 7, and I’ll definitely be listening many more times and looking forward to what Abel releases next.

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