Review: Starboy by the Weeknd

Starboy by the WeekndThe Weeknd has forged a reputation for some classy-slash-grim pop delights, the sort that flies under most people’s radar but hits really deep for those rendered receptive. Everything reaches a peak with his last release, Beauty Behind the Madness, and with its follow-up, Starboy, expectations are really high. But one can’t help but have the impression that Abel Tesfaye buckled under all that weight. That’s not to say Starboy is a terrible album: there are flashes of brilliance in them, points where his trademark icy tension bubbles over strongly. But, at 18 songs totalling 68 minutes, the record is a sprawling collection of tracks that don’t quite know where they want to go. Maybe it’s his recent ubiquity, or the recent ubiquity of his sound, but most of the record feels like a retread. There’s no redeeming spark. It all feels uninspired. Maybe I would feel better about this if the fat was trimmed around it. I don’t think we need most of the collaborations on this record – Lana del Rey aside they feel like “look, he’s done good” exaltations for the sake of it. Maybe then we can get some idea of where this is all heading, but I am not so sure. [NB]2/5

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