Artist Review: The Weeknd – House of Balloons

| July 6, 2011 | 0 Comments


Lyrics A+ Flow A+ Beats A+ Originality A+  Grade A+

It’s safe to say that if you spend the majority of your time Monday through Friday getting paid to do someone else’s work, the weekend is definitely time to enjoy yourself. With that being said, how would you feel if a 20-year-old singer/songwriter from Toronto takes pleasure in giving us The Weeknd 7 days a week 24 hours a day at your expense, pretty good deal right?

The Canadian duo, known as The Weeknd lead by Abel Tesfaye has been on the mouths of music junkies for a few months after a co-sign tweet from fellow Toronto native rapper Drake, and the March 21 release of their debut piece House of Balloons which is a new, idiosyncratic sound of R&B that can easily be argued as the most creative and groundbreaking debut of hip-hop/ R&B since Drake’s So Far Gone in 2009. House of Balloons is perfect mix of body controlling sounds and intoxicated memories of pain and pleasure, the cover says it all.


It’s hard to say that there is one stand-out song from The Weeknd’s debut only due to the fact that there are too many good songs. When was the last time you were put into this situation as a listener? The opening track “High For This” is not only a descriptive tale of taking love making to the next level, but also an introduction to the mind of the artist, and proof that you need to be high off something to get the full expanse of his music.

He begins the song with “You don’t know what’s in store/ but you know what you’re here for”. The sound is very different yet luxuriant and his delivery is so potent that by the end of the song you will feel intoxicated even if you took the sober route through the first 4:09. This song alone is good enough to be a lead single for the likes of other R&B regulars such as The Dream, Bruno Mars, or Robin Thicke but The Weeknd foreshadows in this debut that they are in a league of their own with this song which is featured on the new season promo for HBO favorite Entourage, a show who’s soundtrack always highlights up and coming artist.

The second track “What You Need” is nothing short from perfect. The hook questions a woman’s judgment of her companion as The Weeknd insures that “He got what you want/ but I got what you need” in a repetitive yet hedonistic manner followed by the after party themed “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” where the mood seems to be after he has the claimed the girl he was trying to persuade with the likes of a Siouxsie and the Banshees’s 1980 “Happy House” sample. The track is a little over 6 minutes long and in the middle the beat changes and The Weeknd harmonizes and paints a picture of naked women on glass tables under a strobe light. After that long night, what happens when the sun comes up?

“The Morning” is the easiest song to like off the piece, with an electric guitar that sets a mood so chill it brings instant visions of the sun rising on your face after a long night of doing wrong. The bass doesn’t drop until the end of the first verse being led in by a span of built up claps that can only be used for resembling that 2nd wind for some morning after sex. “Wicked Games” plays the role of the song that re-assures the listener that this artist has so much room to grow to be the best. The guitar on this track stands-out from the rest because its presence seems to represent the woman The Weekend is talking to as it responds to each change of tone he uses throughout the song.  With lines like “Bring your love baby, I can bring my shame/ Bring the drugs baby I can bring my pain” the guitar plays in the back as if its gathering the things The Weeknd request have brought to him .

House of Balloons is unlike any other piece of music available right now. The shift to dark, dirty, emotional tales of sex and drugs has been a common topic in 2011 for new R&B artists, and fittingly The Weeknd seems to be the best place to get it. Recovering from House of Balloons will be unlike any hangover you’ve ever had, hopefully his next release Thursday will be just as good as the weekend before.

Here is the Track list for House of Balloons.

1.) High For This
2.) What You Need
3.) House Of Balloons / Glass Table Girls
4.) The Morning
5.) Wicked Games
6.) The Party & The After Party
7.) Coming Down
8.) Loft Music
9.) The Knowing

Follow Al on Twitter: @TheKidSpoon


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Category: Album Review

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Hip Hop Historian and accomplished photo journalist

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