Although his most assured assault yet on pop stardom, Beauty Behind the Madness leaves one feeling just as estranged from Abel Tesfaye’s depraved character as previous releases boasting less adhesive tunes.
There’s something apposite about the closing duet with Lana Del Rey and its admission, “I’m addicted to a life that’s so empty and so cold”.
For behind that simulacrum of soul, there’s an absence of empathy – which renders his lonely plaints and celebrations of loveless sex ineffectual. Musically, long-time collaborator Illangelo continues to dominate the mood, despite the involvement of Ed Sheeran and Kanye West, the latter lending a pomp to the production of “Tell Your Friends”.
The most telling alliance is with hitmaker Max Martin, who brings a more persuasive structure to the electro grooves of “In the Night” and the No 1 hit “Can’t Feel My Face”.Reuse content