‘Echoes of Silence’, the closer and title track from The Weeknd’s latest mixtape, isn’t its strongest track (that award goes to the pitch-shift torture porn of ‘Initiation’), but for anyone who’s followed him this year, it’s a must-hear.
Over the course of three mixtapes released this year – the greyscale House of Balloons, the bloodthirsty Thursday, and now Echoes of Silence, which appears to find an unhappy balance between the two – Abel Tesfaye and his production team have gone from unknowns to arguably r’n’b’s most talked about unit. They’ve found kinship in Drake – “that OVO and that XO” has become a joint catchphrase for both artists, and Tesfaye has songwriting credits on several tracks from Drake’s Take Care – but really, his 2011 form has The Weeknd out on his own.
No matter how successful The Weeknd becomes though, and Echoes of Silence has plenty of references to money and strip clubs, plus a hilariously cash-happy cameo from Juicy J, you get the impression that Tesfaye might always feel most natural wallowing in self-pity. And on ‘Echoes of Silence’, he really goes in. “I’ve been alone for almost all my life”, from earlier in the mixtape on ‘Same Old Song’, was only a shot across the bows compared to this. It’s a last chance saloon plea for company (“Please / Would you end your night with me / Don’t you leave me all behind / Don’t you leave my little life”) over a reverb-drowned piano loop that’s easily the saddest backing track on a Weeknd song to date. And as the last track, not just of this mixtape, but the entire Weeknd trilogy, it’s pretty crushing.
It’s anyone’s guess what The Weeknd will do in 2012 – a money-spinning world tour is the least he, and his production team deserve. On the other side of the coin, if he just disappeared again, it would be one of modern music’s most incredible stories. But whatever his movements in the future are, he’s had one of the all-time great freshman years, and for now, ‘Echoes of Silence’ is the conclusion.
The Weeknd – ‘Echoes Of Silence’