The Weeknd “House of Balloons”

[BoxTitle]The Weeknd: House of Balloons[/BoxTitle] [FreeDownload][/FreeDownload]

What to say about The Weeknd….it’s an interesting mixtape for a number of reasons; one of them is that it challenges notions about r+b (yeah, I don’t usually like it that much either), and the second reason (which relates to the first) is that it’s a free download when it is absolutely well crafted enough to be a proper album. Late last year nobody even knew who was behind the project as tracks were being published to YouTube, one by one, and the buzz started building. Then in March it came to light that it’s at least partially the brainchild of Toronto-based r+b singer Abel Tesfaye; and this kid is taking R. Kelly’s title and smashing it into pieces with next-level production and smuttier smut. The tracks are beautiful and dark: twisted and sensual jams that sample a variety of hipster-buzz sources (Siouxsie and the Banshees and Beach House to name two). Hazy layers of atmosphere bring to mind The xx (The Knowing); murky industrial synths, Trent Reznor’s projects (Glass Table Girls). The subject matter matches the music: it’s all endless need and sweat and no-come-down (I admit to blushing during the first listen), days blur as curtains are drawn to continue every kind of excess (at one point Tesfaye absentmindedly wonders if one of the girls in the room might be overdosing), constant pleasure to avoid inevitable pain. These aren’t tracks about getting drunk and jiggy, they’re about getting turned out. Hard. The Weeknd is not a span of time, but a frame of mind. A lifestyle.

One of the most buzzed-about mixtapes released so far this year, it’s a highly recommended download. You should at least give it a listen, just so you can talk about it when your friends bring it up. Get it here.