In anticipation for his third studio LP, ‘Starboy’ (which should be with us by tomorrow) The Weeknd has just dropped a short film, ‘Mania’, comprising snippets from various tracks slated to appear on ‘Starboy’. These include ‘All I Know’ (feat. Future), ‘Sidewalks’ (feat. Kendrick Lamar), ‘Secrets’, ‘Die For You’, ‘Party Monster’ and ‘I Feel It Coming’.
As you might expect from Abel, the visuals for the short film weave the tracks together in a rather obscure fashion (watch above).
A black panther perched on a podium juxtaposed with a white background initiates the film, followed by The Weeknd swerving down the mountainside in a McLaren P1 to the screeching guitars of ‘Sidewalks’. Eventually, he pulls up at the club. The stuttering synths of the disco-house infused ‘Secrets’ (a standout in my opinion) play off some frenzied strobes as he strolls through the dance floor. ‘Secrets’ contains samples from Tears For Fears’ ‘Pale Shelter’ and The Romantics’ ‘Talking In Your Sleep’, lending the track a distinctive ‘80s new wave feel.
As The Weeknd finds a girl, however, the tempo slows right down for ‘Love To Lay’ – a smouldering R&B cut. Alas, after a fairly brutal stabbing – things shift to a darker gear. Cue ‘Party Monster’, an ominous ode to drugs and sex; a type of track The Weeknd is all too familiar with.
For the credits, however, Abel arrives back at the podium with his new beau to the tune of ‘I Feel it Coming’. The Weeknd cites Michael Jackson as one of his strongest influences – and MJ’s sonic blueprint is all over this one.
Following the release of ‘Mania’, Abel did a short interview with Zane Lowe on his Beats 1 show:
‘I feel like everybody loses who they are when they start cutting the people who made them who they are.’
We can certainly draw ideological comparisons to fellow Canadian and former label-mate Drake, here; both artists stress the importance of sticking with the people they came up with. However, I believe this statement has important musical implications in the context of ‘Starboy’. For his new LP, much of the production will be handled by Doc Mckinney, executive producer of Abel’s ‘The Trilogy’ and mastermind behind its darkest soundscapes. ‘The Trilogy’ also marked Abel’s rise to fame.
It seems, then, we can expect an amalgamation of The Weeknd’s darker tapes, coupled with his new, shimmering pop sound to manifest on ‘Starboy’. In my opinion, this has all the makings of a perfect album from our songster!