Review: “Beauty Behind the Madness”

Ellie Knobel

R&B artist Abel Tesfaye, popularly referred to as “The Weeknd” since his debut mixtape “House of Ballons” (2011), has recently released a new album. “Beauty Behind the Madness” dropped August 28.  The highly anticipated album features several artists, including Lana Del Rey, Ed Sheeran, and British singer-songwriter Labrinth.

As a fan of most of The Weeknd’s music, this album really surprised me. I was pleased to hear the different sounds and styles “Beauty Behind the Madness” brought to the table. The album opens with “Real Life”, a dark tune in which Abel sings about his destructive tendencies and unbreakable habit of pushing away women that he loves– a story he tells throughout his previous album and mixtapes. The second song, “Losers”, has a much different feel to it. Featuring British artist Labrinth, this song is much more upbeat and catchy. I loved that Labrinth was featured; I was completely unfamiliar with him and his music prior to hearing “Losers”.

Moving onto the third track of the album, and my personal favorite, “Tell Your Friends About it” (produced by Kanye West). Abel sings, almost brags about his lifestyle, referring to himself as the one “with the hair”. I love this song so much because of the amazing instrumental. It has an extremely unique sound, and was the first song on the album I was impressed with.

Tracks four and five are previously released singles- “Often” and “The Hills”. I’m sure we’re all familiar with these two tunes. “Often” was released in 2014- a slow song with a catchy chorus that you can’t help but sing along to. “The Hills”, another one of my favorites on the album, has an incredible beat and dramatic chorus that makes it one of a kind. Both were huge hits- “The Hills” reached number three on the Billboard Top 100.

“Acquainted” and “Can’t Feel My Face” follow. “Acquainted” is a slow moving song that times in at almost six minutes. The song seems to drag on a bit with a weak ending. It’s not one of the album’s strongest ballads. Track seven, “Cant Feel my Face” is more pop than R&B and held a number spot on the Billboard Top 100 for a few weeks. Clearly the melody is appealing to a large number of listeners, but I found it to be cheesy and rather annoying.

Number eight on the album is “Shameless”. With an electric guitar solo midway through the song, it has somewhat of a rock vibe to it. It’s not a very memorable song, but I liked its overall sound. Following that is “Earned it”, previously released for the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack, another extremely popular single. It’s rather minimalist, and showcases Abel’s insane vocals, which makes this song easy to like and almost impossible not to sing along to.

“In the Night” is upbeat and catchy, followed by “As You Are” which is slower, with smoother vocals.

The album ends with three strong tracks- “Dark Times” ft. Ed Sheeran, “Prisoner” ft. Lana Del Rey, and “Angel” ft. Maty Noyes. I was shocked to see Ed Sheeran featured on the album, considering his type of music and sound is completely different than The Weeknd. Surprisingly, their sounds didn’t clash at all. “Dark Times” is a slow starting song with a powerful chorus and a jazz feel to it.

There’s not much to say about the album’s thirteenth track. “Prisoner” featuring Lana Del Rey, is absolutely beautiful and leaves me wondering why these two artists haven’t collaborated before.

Abel finishes off his album with a somewhat unusual song; “Angel”. He sings about a girl that he loves, but feels that he needs to let go in order for her to find somebody who can treat her better. “Angel” is unique to all of Tesfaye’s previous music because it’s a love song. A big change in song content, but a positive change at that.

Overall, I’m a big fan of “Beauty Behind the Madness”. Abel seems to open up more about his relationship with himself and others, while keeping his original and unique sound alive.