The Weeknd “Kiss Land”
by Taylor Gilliam
Whether you consider Kiss Land to be the first or fourth released compilation from The Weeknd, the recently leaked album as a whole follows in the same darkly sensual style as Abel Tesfaye’s previous works: R&B meets a synthesizer and beats that can bring out anyone’s inner stripper. Rapper Drake even took a liking to Tesfaye’s mixtapes, first released for free over the internet and gaining popularity through word of mouth. He joined the journey to the record label and is featured on the track “Live For.” A couple of Kiss Land’s tracks even have a disco-esque feel in the actual music. The lyrics, however, tell a different story. Tesfaye, though plenty busy with a whole host of what we can assume are one night stands since he never names these girls or makes attempts to see them again, sings of a great yet suspiciously vague melancholy. “You need someone to tell you how to feel/ And you think your happiness is real” are some of the first lyrics, thus setting the tone for later declarations such as “My madness is the only love I let myself embrace” and “I just love that you’re dead inside/ I’m not a fool/ I’m just lifeless too.” Multiple references are made to various vices that Tesfaye attempts to use to fill the void of his sadness, but his emptiness prevails. It’s no wonder; it’s difficult to clear one’s head while “always getting high because [my] confidence is low.”
While each track from Kiss Land is worth a listen, it seems as if the album as a whole is an example of the sophomore slump, more whiny than winningly dark, more somber and sleazy than seductive. The flow between tracks is as smooth as the ambience the album conveys, one of hole-in-the-wall underground clubs- kiss lands in and of themselves, but sometimes it is less flow than too much of a similarity among them. In a harsher light, the album could be said to be reminiscent of something played in the background of a basement experimental drug party.
The Weeknd’s popularity has only increased, though. Tesfaye enjoys a substantial fan base on the internet, the place of his roots; the Tumblr community especially is bursting with love for his tortured soul sound. His shows draw crowds, as shown on his Instagram, and the leaked full album stream of Kiss Land on Fist In The Air’s site has almost seventy thousand views. It’s not for nothing. Listen to The Weeknd this weekend; Kiss Land drops on Tuesday.