Kiss Land: drug like and dreamy
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 01:09
Keep a prescription of Xanax nearby. Abel Tesfaye is lonely and semiconsciously drags us down with him to his dark and jaded depths of love-lust. He injects us with his own pain on “Kiss Land” and simultaneously provides numbing to it, with dark production and signature gloom-R&B effects that both haunt and tranquilize. Singing (and at times whining} over dreamy and somber beats, the 23-year-old artist offers us his new, 10-track studio album – but it’s only for the truest of fans; this is no “Thursday” or “House of Balloons.” It’s even darker.
The first and self-produced track “Professional” sets the beautifully dismal tone that lasts throughout the album. The six-minute presentation speaks the inevitable truth of risking emotional damage to oneself for a relationship, as The Weeknd speaks from obvious experience: “It’s ideal, you need someone to tell you how to feel…and you think your happiness is real.”
He then switches the topic to his current relationship with woman who is apparently ruthless with matters of the heart: “What does it mean when your heart’s already numb…you’re professional, won’t treat it like it’s personal.” Tesfaye advises against catching feelings, yet recognizes his own inability to resist doing so.
“The Town” greatly mirrors “Montreal,” one of the classics off the Weeknd’s 2011 breakthrough mixtape, “Echoes of Silence.” Still, it carries more of the dark vibe continuous with the “Kiss Land.” Keyboards and acoustic guitar touches bridge the gap between Tesfaye’s expressive and drawn-out hooks. The track lays the foundation for the following song, “Adaptation,” better characterized as “The Town, Pt. 2.”
“Now my madness is the only love I let myself embrace,” he reflects, blaming his current state of “crazy” on his past, failed relationships. We can assume that women have made him crazy, or at least pained, but wise enough to prevent the same mistakes.
“Love in the Sky” is a tad lighter, but remains consistent with The Weeknd’s self-preserving, loveless MO. On this track, his lyricism paints a picture of a hardened heart, adopting the same mindset of the women by whom he’s been burned. The next is the pre-released single, “Live For,” featuring longtime collaborator Drake. If any of the 10 tracks are club-worthy, this is the one. It’s an anthem that attributes value to friends rather than lovers, and showcases Abel and Drizzy’s unfailing ability to blend their vocals.
“Kiss Land” is a sedative for the happy, and a stimulant for the lonely. The primarily solo tracklist highlights Tesfaye’s maturity and ability to maintain interest without dozens of collaborations. Yet, there is still room to grow – this is reflected in the overload of “downtime” within most of the 6-8 minute songs. Perhaps, though, this is The Weeknd’s precise intent – to allow us to utilize such as “zone-out” time.