The Weeknd

House of Balloons

House of Balloons falls so far outside the realm of music I normally listen to that I’m a little hesitant to post it. On the other hand, I’ve been listening to the album nonstop for the past six months, so I think it’s safe to say I’m obsessed. In the end, my desire to share good music will always outweigh my fear of destroying the impeccable reputation I’ve built on my blog over the past five years. Here it goes.

Despite my relatively eclectic collection of music, there are still genres I tend to avoid. R&B is definitely one of them. I’ve always found it to be a little too cheesy and overtly sexual for my tastes. Lately, though, I’ve been listening to a handful of artists that have me questioning this. One of these artists is The Weeknd, the moniker of über-talented Toronto musician Abel Tesfaye.

Despite being new to the genre, I quickly realized The Weeknd doesn’t record traditional R&B music. House of Balloons is dark, twisted, and somewhat unsettling. It provides a fascinating glimpse into a lifestyle I could never live: one filled with copious amounts of drugs, girls, and money. But the reason I find the album truly compelling is that through all the bravado Tesfaye still manages to bare his soul. Nowhere is this on better display than “Wicked Games.” The song begins with Tesfaye singing “I left my girl back home / I don’t love her no more” – hardly a declaration of good intentions. Later in the song, however, Tesfaye pleads “Just tell me you love me / Even though you don’t love me.” He may not be the most stand-up guy but in the end he just wants to be loved.

The song that initially hooked me, however, was “House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls.” The first half of the track features an incredibly catchy guitar riff (which Tesfaye sampled from “Happy House” by Siouxsie and the Banshees). Halfway through the song morphs into what can only be described as a sleazy, coke-fueled nightmare. It’s quite the experience – definitely not for the faint of heart.