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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

The Weeknd - Kiss Land Review
Posted by Tony Acero on 09.11.2013

01 Professional
02 The Town
03 Adaptation
04 Love in the Sky
05 Belong to the World
06 Live For [ft. Drake]
07 Wanderlust
08 Kiss Land
09 Pretty
10 Tears in the Rain
11 Wanderlust (Pharrell Remix)
12 Odd Look (Kavinsky ft. the Weeknd)

For a time, The Weeknd was a faceless voice, crooning over the mixtape scene and making a stamp on a genre that was in dire need of some help. With his trilogy of mixtapes, The Weeknd’s name grew in value, and with some help from his friends, he became more and more of a person, less of a name. While that’s not detrimental to his career (quite the contrary), it was a worry in his future, and with his first major released album, the question arises as to whether or not his chemistry of sex, drugs, and melody could hold up in a wider scope of musical audience.

Kiss Land is quick to remind you of just who you are listening to from the start. “Professional” is a two-in-one track that welcomes the listener into the world of The Weeknd, and if you’ve never been here before, you’re in for a treat. The first two and a half minutes of “Professional” is a bit of an prologue before the seductive beat of the rest of the song hits, and The Weeknd hits the high point of the track.

On one hand, an argument can be made that there is “nothing new” on the album, as it is, in every sense of the word, a “The Weeknd” album. But after several listens, there are numerous new elements and even some risks that are taken by the young Canadian crooner, with most of them working in his favor more often than not. Similar to his rendition of “Dirty Diana” labelled “D.D” on his Echoes of Silence mixtape, “Wanderlust” of Kiss Land sees him mimicking a Michael Jackson approach to wonderful delight, and “Adaptation” sees him hitting Bruno Mars heights of vocal pitch, adding a new range of emotion towards the track that’s meant to be anything but happy. This, above all else, is where the album stands out: while it’s still very much The Weeknd, he was able to add minute details that show growth as an artist as well as adaptation (no pun intended) towards his height in fame.

Speaking of fame, the content of the album is almost conceptual in its layout. Whereas his trilogy of mixtapes spoke of debauchery, drug usage, and a world that some may be all too familiar with in a light that isn’t exactly negative, but not readily available for applause either, Kissland expands on the idea of fame and what comes with it. Hardly new, this content doesn’t come off as shocking or even profound, but where The Weeknd lacks in words, he punches with music.

The Weeknd is a rare bird in terms of production. This may seem like an exaggerated statement, but his music is the epitome of love-making to the ears. Like any proper sexual escapade, it is at times slow and steady, and other times unsettling and frightening. His three mixtapes are sexy, there’s simply no other way to describe them. Kiss Land is sexy too, but only in the act – not so much the emotion behind it, and I think that’ exactly what The Weeknd was going for. The album toys with screams, thunder, rain, and a lot of jarring instrumentals that break any type of comfort you may have garnered by the softness of songs preceding.

As with any album, it is not without flaws. If there is any one complaint about the album, in can be focused towards the lyrics. Simply put, there are moments of weakness within the prose that The Weeknd attempts to profess. But in a rare case, this reviewer is willing to the lack of lyrical prowess due to the sheer gravity of the music behind the words. The Drake guest track I can pass or accept, as it’s nothing but an amped up version of “Crew Love” from Drake’s album Take Care, even if I do appreciate “Live For” way more than “Crew Love” (and that’s probably due to the lessening of Drake in the song).

So what we have here is an R&B album (if you could call it that) we can call a proper introduction to The Weeknd as an artist. Kiss Land is not an album you play en route to anywhere, but rather one you throw on to dive into your own monsters of the night life – a life far too many talk about in a cliché way, and not enough enrapture in such a way that’s synonymous with a tense and sometimes imperfect night life. In short, The Weeknd personifies the nights that some of us have but may be afraid to admit.

The 411: The Weeknd is introduced proper, and I'm both proud and excited for his future success. Kiss Land is both what it was expected to be and more so. It's a sound that may seem familiar, but with just enough additives to seem new. The lyrics could use some polishing at times, but in some cases it could speak to a wider audience because of it. All in all, a solid "debut" from a solid artist.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  8.8   [ Very Good ]  legend


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