Some time alone with Kiss Land is probably the best way to get a clear representation of its majesty. It’s not something Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye has had a lot of recently, excessive touring has seemingly taken its toll on the 23 year old and those who make up the foundations of Kiss Land.
The Weeknd could have easily relied on the vocals to sell itself (Tesfaye possesses one of the finest voices around) but it’s the unorthodox production that really sets it apart. In one of his rare interviews The Weeknd speaks of the album being about not being comfortable where you are and it being a “terrifying place”. He also said it was inspired by the works of renowned film directors Ridley Scott, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. The David Cronenbergian party element was also rift through his trilogy of mix tapes and spills over here.
This literary technique to tell a story means that there aren’t always hooks and choruses, and once you strip away that formula you are free to do whatever you please. Take tracks ‘The Town’ and title track ‘Kiss land’ around which so much of the album is based, have so much depth and different elements within they demand repeated listens.
Where the chorus and hook template does come into play the results can be a bit under-whelming. ‘Live For’ which features fellow Canadian buddy and sort of Protégé Drake sounds more like a ‘hype song’ than anything else and ‘Wanderlust’ although possessing a pin-point melody and a spot on sampling of Fox The Fox’s ‘Precious Little Diamond’s’ has the feel of a b-grade Michael Jackson song. And of course there is some potty mouthed pillow talk too.
Overall, the end result is a brilliant album with moments that sound like a bad Valentines card. Where his Trilogy of mixtapes had the constant backing of producer Illangelo, at times on Kiss Land his presence seems to be missed somewhat. Despite this Tesfaye is a visionary and if Kiss Land were a place it would be a place worth visiting. Tokyo or Blade Runner’s portrayal of a Dystopian Los Angeles come to mind. you’d get a swarm of sex, but maybe ‘have a cry after’ sex. Not to everyone’s taste, but memorable to say the least.