Driven by a voice that's generally pushed up to a verge-of-hysteria falsetto, The Weeknd's Gothic style interrogates a lot of the clichés of boilerplate R&B. As a Toronto-based singer-songwriter and producer, Abel Tesfaye became an Internet phenomenon when he began self-releasing free mixtapes of woozy, haunted R&B songs in 2010. While he later repackaged this material for a collection called Trilogy, Kiss Land is his proper major-label debut.
What's most remarkable about The Weeknd's music, besides its deeply narcotic electronic arrangements, is how remote and twisted love generally seems amid the familiar trappings of pop-music bliss. But on the more conventional tracks, when he tries to have it both ways, his approach can verge on schtick.
Regardless, the hat trick of Tesfaye's art is that, by singing about emotional numbness, he makes music that's the opposite of numbing — raw, probing and totally alive.
Have you gotten your copy yet? Thoughts?