Sometimes a record comes out that is impossible to classify….It starts out under the blanket description that goes with a genre but a listen show’s that it is deeper, more powerful, the music so elemental that it stands apart as something quite different.
On the surface, HOUSE OF BALLOONS by The Weeknd has a pronounced R&B accent with the usual beats and synths behind it but here the music is neither welcoming nor especially sexy….The music here is epic, desperate, ominous, powerful.
Behind all the depravity and empty club life descriptions (and they are meant to be “empty”) is music fathoms deep in ennui….The only connection to living being the vocals an earnest pleading falsetto that sounds so alone among the languid downbeat machines that accompany it.
The title track samples “Happy House” by Siouxsie and the Banshees and this is one of the few times I appreciate the effect of a sample in music….Many of the songs have huge choruses like “The Knowing” which break the tension the way pus pores out of an wound that has been opened.
There's already a mythos brewing about this record-who was behind it and what it means and I think it's a fascinating record that will hopefully show a way forward for people making similar music….I’ve never cared for modern R&B as it seems to have no intelligence or creativity-just music made for cash or as a marketing adjunct….It has long needed the creation of its own counter-culture to spur better music.
The album can be downloaded on the official website http://the-weeknd.com/