Toronto singer/songwriter The Weeknd has unleashed his major-label debut album, Kiss Land.
The artist's first project since dropping mixtape compilation Trilogy in late 2012, the 10-track LP comes heralded by singles "Belong to the World," "Love in the Sky" and "Live For," as well as the reader-acclaimed title track. Drake is the sole guest on the project, which boasts beats by DannyBoyStyles, Jason "DaHeala" Quenneville and Silkky Johnson, as well as boardwork by the artist himself.
Kiss Land Album Review
When Abel’s debut House of Balloons was released, it felt like the globe had fallen in love with his drowsy and druggy sound. The bar was instantly set. Following up with two more bodies of work, Thursday and Echoes of Silence (which lead to the re-release of all three tapes as the Trilogy), listeners were curious to see if he could ever live up to the tremendous hype. Now with the release of his proper debut album, Kiss Land, we have our answer.
Everything seemed to be going perfectly during the rise of the OVOXO movement. But since Abel didn't end up signing to Drake, a lot of questions were raised about whether or not the XO imprint could stand on its own. Sticking to the sound that The Weeknd claimed as his own, Kiss Land begins with the eerie but familiar intro track Professional. In typical House of Balloons fashion, Tesfaye takes listeners into two different worlds – splitting the track into a pair. Speaking on new experiences and the evolution of his life, and the new realities he faces with stardom status, Abel allows listeners to feel his pain over a memorable Emika sample.
The highly evident influences of the late-great Michael Jackson really shines on records like Adaption and Wanderlust. On the slower tempo Adaption, Abel flexes his unique vocal stylings over a sound that the new generation can claim as their own – with a melody our parents would find nostalgic. This influence continues on the 80's-feel Wanderlust where The Weeknd makes his love for his “precious little diamond” transparent.
Hands down, the standout tracks on the album are lead singles Belong to the World and Live For which, fittingly, contain the album's main guest feature artist, Drizzy. Live For essentially serves as the unofficial Crew Love remix, with both the OVOXO flag holders, Abel and Aubrey, expressing their love for their respected crews.
Had Kiss Land been the first release from The Weeknd it would feel like an extremely impressive effort. But lyrically, the album becomes repetitive and redundant when placed next to what we've heard in the past on his three previously-released projects. Overall, Kiss Land is a decent first full-length, but for the hype that The Weeknd had built up leading to this release, some (if not most) will say that it failed to meet expectations, especially compared to the incredible hype that surrounded his 2011 debut. But like most artists, it is hard to outshine your original album/mixtape on a major label debut. Not necessarily because the music isn't as good, but because the thrill of discovery completely wears away. Still, expect The Weeknd to be around for a long time to come.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins