I am a bit late to review this one, but it’s because House of Balloons by The Weeknd (real name: Abel Tesfaye) is one of the best R&B records to be released in the past million years. So perfect, in fact, that I’ve struggled to come up with the words to describe it’s perfection. In short, you should probably just download it for FREE from the official website so you can be speechless and share the same mind blowing experience as I had.
But you want a review? Okay..let’s get right into it!
Perhaps one of the most stunning and awe-inspiring moments on House of Balloons is “The Morning”. It’s contents of a pitched down and delayed opening kick, subtle and beautiful sweeping pad (that’s uniquely used at the forefront of the mix in replace of a lead Synth), and a prominent guitar wet with reverb offers a foundation not much found in the urban music. Rhythmic elements & production that are classic to the genre’s sound flow throughout the track as well giving this track an intelligent combination of old school vs new school.
Lyrically & emotionally, you could call House of Balloons the R&B brother to Nine Inch Nails’ critically acclaimed release The Downward Spiral as it’s an eerily dark, and almost conceptual album about self-destruction. Tales of money, alcohol, drugs, and sex hold high among the rankings of what this album is about and while the majority of the mainstream R&B genre has a reputation of being dedicated to these four subjects; the matter is delivered in a way that feels fresh and most importantly, poetic. Perhaps, it’s because of the honesty in the way the lyrics are presented throughout the song.
Toward the end of the Beach House sampled track “The Party & The After Party” you’ll find the offending lines “I got a brand new girl, call her Rudolf/She’ll probably OD before before I show her to Momma./All these girls try to tell me she got no love/but all these girls never ever got a blow job./Ringtone on silent/and if she stops then I might get violent. No calls worth stopping/So Momma please stop calling.” In written form these words speak volumes and are the epitome of the content provided within this album.
Beach House aren’t the only artists sampled on this mixtape of sorts. You’ll also find Aaliyah & Siouxsie and the Banshees chopped from their original sources and inserted into Tesfaye’s realm of depression and while sampling has gotten a horrible reputation over the years of being uncreative and used merely as a scapegoat to hide lack of talent and to pump out tracks more quickly, the borrowed works of other artists on The Weeknd’s debut are uniquely warped, pitched, looped, and only enhance the overall mood of House of Balloons.
Perhaps that’s why this album succeeds so much. It takes all of the negative reputations of modern day music and presents them in a fashion that’s uniquely shocking, creative, and pleasing to the ears while holding a high sense of dignity and respect in each and every track. If this free release is any indication on what The Weeknd is fully capable of, I am ready and look forward to what’s coming next.
Album rating: 5/5
Free download of House of Balloons [Official Website]