Abel Makkonen Tesfaye (The Weeknd), released After Hours on the 20th of March, 2020- and ever since it has become the mousike objet d’art I’m most infatuated with, and it’s not the first time I’ve ever resonated so much with his artistic side, it was since Starboy (2016) the whole album, in its entirety. It is his infusion of R&B along with musing lyrics and mind-altering- almost psychedelic cinematic narrative, that has all my deep admiration for him as an artist. After Hours, the album entails a profound vision of a solipsistic man channeling his sybaritic life tussling through the incessant mania and melancholia.
The repetition of the lyrical musings is only mundane since real art reflects only attempts to intricate the inner self. Hence, the bacchanalian exaltations, lonesome monachopsis, the klexos, is the reflection of his mundane persona onto the art i.e., his music and cinematic narratives. The enigma of his noir-pop exposes the objet petit a of the psyche and self – the kuebiko and liberosis, amalgamated with the paroxysmal blues.
Here goes the journey from eruption to the epilogue of Abel‘s ‘After Hours’–
The album starts off with, ‘Alone Again’, “Take off my disguise, I’m living someone else’s life, Suppressing who I was inside, So I throw two-thousand ones in the sky” already establishes the commencement of the aesthetic ride with the cinematic narrative that begins with The Weeknd leaving Jimmy Kimmel’s show as Abel Makkonen Tesfaye with a wounded face and despairing tears in his eyes. The suppression of the self noticeable through the momentary strained smile. If one was to relate Abel with the Joker, he’d be the Starboy version of the same.
‘Too Late’, entails the ectopic remnant heart, “It’s way too late to save our souls.. we’re in hell, it’s disguised as a paradise with flashing lights, I just wanna believe there’s so much more..” and the cinematic narrative entails the same- flashes of the blonde muse.
‘Hardest in Love’ depicts the duality of The Weeknd and Abel and what it brings about in his intimate bonds, “Cause I’ve been the hardest to love, you’re tryna let me go, yeah, and I can see it, I can see it”. The video narration just parallels the hedonistic ventures that come right after the end of intense infatuation.
‘Scared to Live’ is an alluring musical piece, “I know things will never be the same, time we lost will never be replaced, I’m the reason you forgot to love- So don’t be scared to live again..” performed live at SNL as The Weeknd, with just an attitude that outrightly puts the hopeful word out in eyes of the world – “No, don’t be scared to live again”.
‘Snowchild’ starts with this irresistible beat that seizes the sincere moments of comfort, along with the narration as the epiphanies strike, “Walking in the snow before I ever made my wrist freeze, I was blowing smoke, had me dizzy like Gillespie,… Leaving, leaving into the night”.
‘Escape from LA’ is a classic, an absolute masterpiece in elucidating the real 21st-century hedonistic-lives many are living and some become slaves of- thinking it’s the way towards fame, for the satisfaction of the ego, “LA girls all look the same, I can’t recognize, The same work is done on their face, I don’t criticize, She a cold-hearted bitch with no shame- But her throat too fire”. But it also entails how The Weeknd has achieved the best of the material world, however, (Abel) struggles with the only possession that matters i.e., love, “Got everything I wanted, But I’d be nothing without you”.
‘Heartless’ is a straight-up depiction of the stages that are set into motion right after the rejection and end of an intimate bond- the hedonism; the coldness. The cinematic portrayal mirrors the lyrics extremely well.
[On a side note, however, I’ll add here that licking the Bufo Alvarius Toad (in the ‘Heartless’ music video)- is not the way to trip on 5-MeO-DMT – harm reduction and correct administration videos are available online- also, I do not condone the use of any psychotropic drugs).
‘Faith’ is the continuation entailing the hedonistic activity of altering consciousness to escape the reality, while feeling, “everything, I feel everything from my body to my soul” and also stating the melancholic side has now led Abel to abandon all faith or ‘religion’ and leave sobriety.
‘Blinding Lights’ is probably again, another absolute pop-hit which continues Abel‘s journey of hedonism in the sin-city. The song, as well as the cinematic narrative, brings back the 80s vibe and expands on how he doesn’t have the other muse to rely on anymore.
‘In your eyes’ is just Abel‘s resistance to face the closure so he could live in pretense, “I’d rather be so oblivious, I’d rather be with you, When it’s said, when it’s done, yeah, I don’t ever wanna know”. The title and some of the lyrics, also correspond to the famous quote from the classic Al Pacino & Michelle Marie Pfeiffer’s Scarface (1983), “the eyes chico, they never lie”.
‘Save your tears’ – my unique treasure, the best track on the album, in my opinion of course. Here, Abel expresses his confused state of mind that overtakes his psyche when he’s exposed to a new intimate bond, “I don’t know why I run away… Take me back ’cause I wanna stay..”. Abel also debunks the never-ending cycle of love and heartbreaks, “Yeah, I broke your heart like someone did to mine, And now you won’t love me for a second time”.
‘Repeat after me (Interlude)’– Interludes’ in The Weeknd‘s album are always ecstatic in a musical essence- the same was true for the Starboy’s interlude with Lana Del Rey- ‘Stargirl’. Abel here continues his resistance of possible closures, and continues the illusion that “You don’t love him, you don’t love him- You don’t love him if you’re thinking of me” or is he? – that’s the charm of this interlude.
‘After Hours’– the track which the album is named after, narrates the intense melancholic sides that take over the psyche- the overthinking; the reminisces, “My darkest hours- Girl, I felt so alone inside of this crowded room”. The vocal notes that Abel hits while singing- “Oh, baby, where are you now when I need you most?, I’d give it all just to hold you close- Sorry that I broke your heart, your heart” just proves the luminosity of his voice.
‘Until I bleed out’ is the last track (not in the Deluxe version) of the album, and beautifully concludes his desire of finally letting go of his damaged state of consciousness, “I wanna cut you outta my dreams- ‘Til I’m bleeding out”.
In the Deluxe version of ‘After hours’, the album, there are three more tracks that The Weeknd expressed as the final epilogue to his long artistic expression:
‘Nothing Compares‘ can literally be described in two words from Abel himself- “Asphyxiated, (Asphyxiated)., Intoxicated, (Intoxicated)”.
‘Missed you’ is Abel‘s message to the muse about his acceptance of his initial refusal to come in terms with the closure, “But I was frontin’, lyin’ to myself, When I know the truth, Was I missed you- Yes, it’s true”.
And at last, the ‘Final Lullaby’– a graceful adieu, “And I can’t make you stay, In this broken place, And I hope you find peace, Close your eyes as I put us to sleep”.
Abel, I love you.