A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Cocktail Club Film Club
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features Newswire TV Club
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

The Weeknd: House of Balloons


The Weeknd

Album: House Of Balloons
Label: the-weeknd.com

Community Grade (41 Users)

  • A
  • A-
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • D+
  • D
  • D-
  • F

Your Grade


On paper, The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons reads like a retread of How To Dress Well, another new-media-savvy act that shaded contemporary R&B with electronic and indie-rock aesthetics. But How To Dress Well’s lo-fi experiment was the work of a genre outsider infatuated more by the idea of R&B than its mechanics, while The Weeknd’s debut plays like an actual R&B record: Its slow jams smolder lustfully, building to rousing choruses from a vocalist who can really sing. Abel Tesfaye’s gripping voice distills Trey Songz’s pleading intensity, The-Dream’s bittersweet wistfulness, and Drake’s self-confidence in one package. Tesfaye breaks from radio sensibilities, though, by pushing the unrest and inner turmoil those singers periodically touch on to unsettling extremes. His persona is a much grimmer interpretation of the conflicted lothario: a churlish, hard-partying hedonist who cycles through an endless supply of pills, cocaine, and disposable women. (At his coldest, on “The Party & The After Party,” he introduces a new girlfriend with the preface “she’ll probably OD before I show her to Momma.”) House Of Balloons’ hook is its canny incorporation of indie-rock attitude into R&B songs. But Tesfaye’s lurid, unrepentant depiction of hard drugs and empty sex is what lingers long after the novelty of a couple of Beach House samples wears off.