Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye's triple-album compilation of three previous mixtapes, Trilogy, caused a stir on its release last year, but this debut album proper fails to develop or change-up his formula of predatory sexuality expressed in tremulous tones. Employing samples from Emika, Portishead and others, the arrangements have a dark, lascivious fascination, but Tesfaye's cold, reptilian character is deeply off-putting. As portrayed in “Kiss Land” and in the prostitute encounter “Professional”, this is a world in which sexual desire is joyless and compromised by commerce, yet still claims the emotional pull of soul music, in the Marvin Gaye/Otis Redding sense. Which leaves you wondering what has happened to this man's soul.
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