after hours album cover

We might not be able to fully rave, but we’ll be damned if The Weeknd doesn’t make us want to try.

In the midst of social distancing and boredom, The Weeknd followed through on his promise to release “After Hours,” the artist’s sixth album. 

The Weeknd follows his typical deep dark dance pattern, creating songs that make listeners feel dangerous and wild, urging them to make bad decisions. But now, listeners have a sprinkle of love tossed in for good measure.

That’s right, The Weeknd is singing about women, well, one woman, and it isn’t just about breaking each other’s hearts. The tracks “Hardest To Love” and “After Hours” reveal the artist finally showing remorse for his mistakes. This record is a public apology letter.

It’s a welcome turn for an artist who seemed to objectify women at every turn. But don’t worry loyal listeners, “Heartless” brings the guy who doesn’t care back, if only for a second. 

“After Hours” feels less toxic without losing the darkness The Weeknd has spent his career cultivating. He’s vulnerable, but people better not forget that he’s also hard.

The record sounds the same as usual. It’s easy to dance to and easy to ignore the lyrics. But the lyrics are a lot less sinister than they used to be.

The record isn’t just about making mistakes. However, the possibility of making them is still there lingering below the surface like the guy you can feel watching you in the club that you never see. It’s a spooky feeling, but one listeners welcome. 

It really is a bit of a shame that this record wasn’t released in a time where people could go out and experience it the way it seems like The Weeknd wants them to: four shots deep, a little bit crossed and hanging off of someone you just met. 

Maybe that’s the beauty of it though. If club-goers heard this on a dimly-lit dance floor, they wouldn’t pay attention to the surprisingly sweet lyrics. That’s where The Weeknd has really grown. Not in his beats or production, which have remained firmly the same since 2012, but in his lyrics that show depth beyond hurt or anger.

No, listeners might not be able to go clubbing, snort cocaine off a stripper and get blackout drunk, but they can turn off their lights and dance to “Blinding Lights” until they feel alive. Between the quick beat, impeccable production and catchy chorus, it won’t take long. It’s not the same as a gross club, no, but it is healthier in more ways than one if you really think about it. 

Music is reliable, even if it isn’t exactly what we expect. When the world feels like everything good is ending, when it feels like life will never be normal again, we can rely on artists releasing new albums or singles or live streaming. It might not be perfect or some people’s taste, but it’s there when we need it.