Among the many notable albums that came out in 2011, a trilogy of mixtapes rose above and captured my ears and attention. These three mixtapes were releaased by Abel Tesfaye, a Torontonian who records under the moniker the Weeknd. Each paints a lush and nocturnal picture by blending soul, R&B and hiphop. This stylistic fusion brings the listener into an auditory setting of lust, love, hurt and overindulgence that most artists would struggle to create. The first of the series, House of Balloons, and the final offering, Echoes of Silence are undoubtedly the highlights, each with a number of highly memorable (and morally ambiguous) moments. While his themes may have no longer been novel by Echoes of Silence, they remained, at least for me, as captivating and as interesting as they were when I first heard on House of Balloons. I don’t think I was the only one to feel this way: Echoes of Silence was so hotly anticipated that despite a subpar sophomore showing on Thursday the website distributing the album was down for much of the day of release. The Weeknd is clearly still on the rise, and I have the highest of hopes for future releases.
Key tracks: Loft Music, The Morning (both from House of Ballons); and D.D., a brilliant cover of the late Michael Jacksons’ Dirty Diana (from Echoes of Silence).
Pictures via the Weeknd