Not so fast!
Echoes of Silence continues with the cadre of really sad characters (such as the poor girl working for your face-lift on XO/The Host) in really sad, sexually exploitive situations spelled out on The Weeknds first two mixtapes, without adding many new elements to that signature hazy, narcotized atmosphere of industrial beats and queasy samples. Being less shocking than the initial listening, its easier to break these very intricate songs down, both lyrically and structurally, thereby anchoring the listener in what began as a turbulent environment.
If Glass Table Girls and Life of the Party were the hot singles produced by mixtapes No. 1 and No. 2 (the excellent, unexpected House of Balloons and the slightly less-than-above-average, much more expected Thursday), then D.D. is probably the catchiest, most explosive entry in the entire trilogy.
Unfortunately for Mr. Tesfaye, however, its a cover of one of Michael Jacksons slew of No. 1 hits, 1998s Dirty Diana. The 21-year-olds version is excellent, but for most of the same reason Jacksons is. Theres that explosive snarl in his voice when the narrator announces his intent of conquest, and Jennifer Battens shredding, melodic guitar is replaced by an eerie chorus of backup oohs and aahs, which increase the songs paranoia at the cost of Dianas original catchiness.
The album grinds to an unexpected stop from its nasty, bumping pace at the end of XO/The Host, shifting up into the genuinely disturbing Initiation, which sounds like what I imagine taking Adderall and reading freaky Wikipedia entries would be like. The scene feels so detailed and real that it again begs the question if this is some evil fantasy or rooted in some sleazy-underside-to-pop-glamor existence.
Same Old Song starts right off all accusatory, just like the bulk of the rest of The Weeknds music. What makes this project so psychologically demented (and subsequently compelling) is the narcotic tint to the lyricism, which depicts so many damaged lifestyles and how truly screwed up their mutual dependence (most notably between the pop star and his groupies) is. Its an impressive testament that Tesfaye can pull a line as trite as Baby dont go home / I dont want to spend tonight alone on the final track, Echoes of Silence, and not only sound completely convincing, but even touching in a sad, desperate sort of way.
Its an appropriately depressing end to the menacing, sad party that High for This began on the House of Balloons mixtape. Just dont listen to all three in a row unless youre looking for the kind of good time that invites a mess of regret in the morning.