Our Take: The Weeknd’s ‘My Dear Melancholy,’ Marks the Beauty in the Breakup

My Dear Melancholy, - The Weeknd

Kelly's Take

The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy, breaks the vulnerability barrier with Trilogy-inspired tracks of lost-love and personal devastation.

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The Weeknd was birthed out of a sensual, dark, shadowy R&B, one that framed him as a sexy villain with hypnotizing power in voice and lyricism. His early days were hyped with lyrics of excessive drug use and sounds of seduction. It’s what drew his fan base, a dedicated group of “XO” superfans who showed up at underground shows to scream along to words of sex and glamorous after parties.

Over the years, The Weeknd has grown to be a pop God, one comparable to Michael Jackson both in persona and musical influence. The Weeknd’s acceleration in this unpredictable direction was loved by many but resented by some of the truest fans for fear of him becoming a sellout and losing his dark edge.

Released today, 3/30/2018 via XO/Republic Records, My Dear Melancholy, is a surprise EP release announced just hours before its distribution. But what’s more surprising is the sound and message that accompanies the collection. It’s a full-force breakup album, soaked in devastation and madness, but one that pays unexpected tribute to the sounds that started The Weeknd’s monstrous career.

Listen: My Dear Melancholy, – The Weeknd

This album hosts no “I Feel It Coming” danceability and no Jackson pop odes past The Weeknd’s comparable high-pitched voice. It’s a stripped down facade with no sight of lifestyle boasting. It’s simply pain.

The collection is so reminiscent of the Trilogy era it’s almost as if the past two pop-based collections fail to exist. The Weeknd has been rewritten, once again, this time as a dark warrior of heartbreak and failure to let go.

My Dear Melancholy, opens with what may be The Weeknd’s most vulnerable track yet. “Call Out My Name” speaks of a lover who wants to leave. Chorus lyrics exclaim “I want you to stay even though you don’t want me… Girl, why can’t you wait until I fall out of love?” This raw depth is what listeners have barely heard from the strong-fronted singer. It’s been seen only in glimpses of glamor-fronted albums with no true feeling of strings attached.

I said I didn’t feel nothing baby, but I lied
I almost cut a piece of myself for your life
Guess I was just another pit stop
Til’ you made up your mind
You just wasted my time
You’re on top
– “Call Out My Name,” The Weeknd
My Dear Melancholy, - The Weeknd
My Dear Melancholy, – The Weeknd

Continuing with similar themes, “Wasted Times” speaks of reconciliation with a past love who may be with someone else. “I Was Never There” shows the depth of devastation in lyrics, “What makes a grown man want to cry? What makes him want to take his life?” “Hurt You” flips the perspective to pain of the partner with The Weeknd’s chorus cry “I don’t want to hurt you,” accompanied by lyrics about teary eyes and suicidal thoughts. “Privilege” acts as a final goodbye to the relationship, showing little emotion other than a risky return to the old lifestyle of pills and drinks that seems to be absent in this collection.

My Dear Melancholy, is a nostalgic, revolutionary step in The Weeknd’s career. It’s raw and heartbreaking in a way that makes him feel real, yet excitingly comparative to the tracks that started his career as a dark poet with few cares past the party. Now, it seems The Weeknd has come full circle from his days of dark lust to, now, days of love and a return to a different darkness. It feels like the conclusion to a self-exploration that needed true pain in order to be complete. It’s difficult to hear for listeners with any relation to life-changing loss, but celebratory in a sound-driven sense. Undoubtedly, fans will be sympathetic to the message but will rejoice at the familiarity of the lost sound, the darkness only brought back by what seems to be an incredibly trying time in The Weeknd’s life.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of The Weeknd or a new listener, My Dear Melancholy, is not a collection to miss. It’s sexual, dark, and rewarding in production and lyricism. Though only six songs, it has the ability to pull listeners deep into its abyss, one that makes the outside world seem a little darker in the most beautiful way.

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:: stream My Dear Melancholy, here ::

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My Dear Melancholy, - The Weeknd

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