For a man with the world at his feet, Abel Tesfay must be looking over his shoulder. Such was the praise heaped on his debut mixtape as The Weeknd and such is the fickle nature of the modern music world that the response to this follow up can’t have been a foregone conclusion. Everybody loved him when no-one had heard of him and his music was a genuine breath of fresh air but, like the nocturnal pleasures of which he sings, recapturing that initial thrill may not have been so easy. We needn’t have worried. Thursday is more of the same and then some, another nine track journey that leaves you feeling breathless.
It’s perhaps no coincidence that, whereas The House Of Balloons came with a grainy black and white cover, Thursday’s artwork is a more garish, colourful affair. The premise remains the same – a dark, twisted take on modern r ‘n’ b – but there is a sense here that Tesfay has developed his vision already. Everything seems just that bit better – the production, the songs, the presentation. If the only counter complaint to this is that the element of surprise has been lost then you’re on pretty thing ground.
For a short record, there are plenty of highlights as the piece moves from mood to mood. Tesfay (as well as guest Drake) turns in a vocal performance that is of the highest quality and reassuringly old school; for all the studio sheen there’s no doubt that he can really, really sing. The songs are great too, particularly the striking opener ‘Lonely Star’, ‘The Birds Part 1’, the subtle ‘Rolling Stone’and heavy dub of ‘Heaven Or Las Vegas’. Original, daring and brilliant…The Weeknd has it all and he has it after a staggeringly short space of time. God only knows where he goes next.
Download Thursday for free here.