FAULT reviews: The Weeknd – Kiss Land

 The air of secrecy surrounding Abel Tesfaye shows no sign of clearing any time soon, yet with his new album Kiss Land, the picture has become ever so slightly clearer…

The Weeknd - Kiss Land
The WeekndKiss Land

From the moment it was first mentioned The Weeknd has been keen to show his fans that Kiss Land is more than just an album. Through his now trademark minimalistic approach to communication, photographs, videos and cryptic posts across social media, he has made it clear that Kiss Land is a place, it’s a journey and it’s a state of mind. As a listener you’re taken on an unsettling, isolated, and intimate ride through The Weeknd’s world, make no mistake though; this is not a world he’s familiar with either and not one to be emulated. – “This ain’t nothing to relate to, even if you tried.”

Throughout the last year the Canadian sensation has seeped in to the wider world’s consciousness with barely a word to the public. April saw his first and currently only interview with Complex Magazine in which The Weeknd dispelled any rumours that he was hoping to maintain an underground status, he wants stardom and nothing less. Kiss Land is a direct reflection of the journey towards acclaim that The Weeknd has made throughout the last year, both geographically with its heavily Japanese influenced artwork and emotionally in the feelings of overindulged despair and excess.

Isolation is the most prominent theme running throughout the album and Tesfaye is yet again at his most unnervingly honest, admitting to his fears of being alone and confessing his love on more than one occasion. The album’s production has taken a decidedly more polished route than The Trilogy however, the harsh, dark and distorted beats still rumble beneath The Weeknd’s unfaltering tones, this time punctuated with haunting samples from The Police and Portishead amongst others. The cryptic messages that still run deep within his music are now paired with screams and horror sound-bites making Kiss Land a more unsettling experience than the open, albeit intoxicating storytelling on Echoes Of Silence.

Abel Tesfaye
Abel Tesfaye

Professional, the first track on the album sees the The Weeknd opening up about a relationship and the feeling of naivety he’s left with, the despondent lyrics “what does it mean, when your heart’s already numb, you’re professional” are an early indication of the regret and confusion expressed continually in Kiss Land. The album does play host to lighter songs in which The Weeknd shows yet another side to his abilities. Wanderlust is a sure-fire hit sure to transcend across genres with or without help from the Pharell remix. ‘Love In The Sky’ is notably the only track to include a guest appearance and even more notably the guest is Drake, his verse cuts through the album offering a stark contrast to The Weeknd’s emotionally charged words, his appearance helping to reinforce the importance of The Weeknd showcasing how unique his sound truly is.

The final track, ‘Tears In The Rain’, takes it’s name from a scene in the film Blade Runner, Tesfaye states that the film heavily influenced the album visually and conceptually and the track is a fitting end to the album, reinforcing the isolation indulgence and despair conveyed throughout. Not many artists, if any, could piece together an album so frighteningly honest, whilst still ensuring that every song can stand on it’s own. Comparisons with the late, great Michael Jackson don’t come easy. Worthy patrons of the title are rare, virtually none existent in fact, yet the 23 year old from Canada is showing all the right signs of attaining stardom and doing so in a refreshingly unique way, Kiss Land is just the start…

Kiss Land is out today – September 10th

Words by Louis Sheridan