Review Summary: Partying Is Such A Sweet Sorrow
It’s Friday you just got to get down on Friday Tesfaye tells to himself, with a soulless gaze in his eyes and a pout on his face Tesfaye walks to the bar counter, grabs a 100 out of his leather jacket and says ‘keep the change’. The solo R&B sensation is back once again to wrap up his album trilogy with his best yet. If you haven’t met the starring character found on Echoes of Silence already you are about to very personally. Be warned however that you are best to keep your girl at home for this party. Tesfaye’s previous releases explored interesting new territory and dared to experiment with a largely overlooked music genre. Tapping into this daring well, not only shows that R&B still has bite to offer but that it can have dense musical value.
Echoes Of Silence throughout its course creates a very compelling narrative of a young man starting to not feel so young any more. The glory and glamour of the Guido lifestyle has its time in the spotlight but when the cameras are off and you’re stuck in bed with a hangover that ’16 and Pregnant’ commercial plays in all of its glory, and the days become longer than the nights. Tesfaye has clearly learned the hard way that the party doesn’t last forever and expresses it through not only his lyrics but his atmosphere. On previous releases there was direction but the heart wasn’t there like it is in Echoes of Silence. Generally R&B is used in a upbeat, soulful sort of manner so it is only fitting that Tesfaye expresses his grief through the only medium he has grown to know. Making great use of the soaring vocals found on such soulful acts: Tesfaye croons, and transcends the atmospheric boundaries in place before him only to show us he has had enough. Lyricism is delivered brilliantly on this album due to its raw, unaltered honesty. The character isn’t a hipster or a wise man, he is a man of the VIP and the album is great at expressing just that.
The production on this album is also top notch as well showing dramatic improvements over House of Balloons which saw its release less than a year earlier. The atmosphere is very cold and sombre comprised of subtle lines and thick, often dirty drum beats. Straying away from conventions there are plenty of thudding, and hard hitting beats full of reverb that accompanied by the lines drown the atmosphere in sorrow as it unwillingly drags its feet down the curve. This works beautifully in contrast with the soaring vocals, because of their generally sweeping and high tone allow the atmosphere to get brought back up into the mix only to have the beat rip itself away from the character’s trembling hands. With the assistance of production the beats can lower and soar to different levels, staying far away from the middle but never feeling extreme due to their streamlined composure. Heartfelt middle ground is often saved for wavering, unsettling climaxes such as in ‘Next’ where a guitar line pushes for just a brief moment, just hard enough to display the concluding unrest of ups and downs found throughout the structure. Mournful, stretched out piano notes are often utilized to add to the atmosphere as well and add an extra touch that really spruces up the atmosphere. The classiness of the piano will often find itself interplaying fading in and out between the strained beats to further add to the state of darkness Tesfaye expresses throughout his songs.
Echoes of Silence is a unique album, it is expressed through the eyes of a douche but a douche you can’t help but to empathize with. It takes very real, relatable situations and overthinks them until it draws insanity. Tesfaye is quite an anxious fellow: a disturbed fellow that can have any girl he wants. Digging up the withering soulful roots of R&B and adding just a splash of genuine character will make this emotional record an experience not to soon be silenced.