Album Review: The Weeknd – Kiss Land


Before I selected an album to review, I went through the same thought process as Keith and Dan did with their most recent reviews (click on their names and read theirs too!). I wanted to review an artist, or band, that I wasn’t a passionate fan of because it would cause substantial bias (ahem, my Taking Back Sunday review was essentially me writing an open love letter to the band). So I decided to do just that, and I believe I will go with…

The Weeknd! (Birth name: Abel Tesfaye)

(Photo Credit: Alanzadeh)

(Photo Credit: Alanzadeh)

To be honest, I’ve never even listened to a song by The Weeknd – accidently or purposefully. That may be absurd to many because he has a relatively large following in my age bracket – at least most of the people I’m friends with religiously listen to The Weeknd – but those same friends likely realize that I do not listen to much R&B (or more specifically PBR&B as it is known for The Weeknd’s case). I only even know of The Weeknd because of those same friends retweeting Mr. Weeknd, or tweeting his lyrics.

This album review will be as objective as they come, though, so that’s a positive. I will also say that since I have never listened to The Weeknd that I may not be able to pick up on any subtle themes or style he employs in his music. Feel free to tear me limb from limb if I incorrectly assess any lyrics or themes. I’m going in with zero knowledge on The Weeknd, which I think will be fun for this review.

The album to be reviewed is The Weeknd’s latest album Kiss Land, which was released September 10, 2013. You can buy that album at Amazon, iTunes, The Weeknd’s Site, or your local music store/Target. Remember, not every artist is living in a luxurious mansion; this is their passion as well as their means to make a living.

The album cover of Kiss Land can be seen here.

So let’s get this baby started right? Well first let me tell you how this album will be graded in this review.

I will be color coding each song title track with one of these colors: Purple (favorite track), Green (solid songs), Blue (listenable), and Red (I don’t like it one bit). Got it? Then I will be giving reasons why those songs received that grade, and the overall grade of the album will be listed at the bottom out of ten.

I like to grade the albums this way because it is easy for readers to quickly grasp my opinion on the individual songs, as well as the album, without having to search high and low for it. It is simple to just make a blanket statement about an album without really giving an opinion on the majority of songs, but with this means of grading it shows my feelings towards each song.

Here we go, and, again, thanks for reading!

Track List

Professional
The Town
Adaptation
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Live For Feat. Drake
Wanderlust
Kiss Land
Pretty
Tears In The Rain
Odd Look [Only from iTunes purchase] Feat. The Weeknd By Kavinsky

(Photo Credit: Shubvirk)

(Photo Credit: Shubvirk)

Track List

Professional
The Town
Adaptation
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Live For Feat. Drake
Wanderlust
Kiss Land
Pretty
Tears In The Rain
Odd Look [Only from iTunes purchase] Feat. The Weeknd By Kavinsky

Purple Level Songs:

Wanderlust

Explanation:

‘Wanderlust’ appealed to me because it was different, but not so different that The Weeknd lost his style. The intro with the guitar warmed my heart, and the faster pace music made me appreciate The Weeknd’s lyrics much more considering nearly every other song on this album is mellow, or too slow for my blood. The only critique I have is The Weeknd may be incorrectly using the word ‘wanderlust’ in his lyrics. (Here’s the literal definition.)

Look here at a snippet of lyrics:

You’re in love with something bigger than love
You believe in something stronger than trust
Wanderlust
Wanderlust

You’re too shy away from me
Just sacrifice your every last inhibition
I’m on your side
Don’t patronize
You know tonight
Is the only time we’ll have each other
Why would you try to waste this precious time?
Cause tonight I’ll be right here
And tomorrow you won’t care

There is no concrete mention of travel (essentially what wanderlust means); there is mention that ‘You’re too shy away from me’ and ‘I’ll be right here, And tomorrow you won’t care.’ Whether or not that is insinuating travel, or separation from The Weeknd, is ultimately up to you to decide – I frankly don’t believe that to be the case in the grand scheme of the song. I believe The Weeknd slotted the word wanderlust into the song and it fit perfectly. I apologize for that mini-rant/explanation over semantics.

Overall ‘Wanderlust’ is a catchy song with a mildly fast beat (in comparison to the rest of the album) and is a must listen on Kiss Land.

Green Level Songs:

Professional
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Odd Look

Explanation:

The first song of this album ‘Professional’ does a stellar job of starting off Kiss Land. ‘Professional’ quickly lent me The Weeknd’s style when it came to lyrics and music. I should have realized that an R&B album would be sensual, but ‘Professional’ again helped me realize that quickly (not saying it is a bad thing just that I should have thought about that before listening!).

‘Love In The Sky’ follows the theme of love, fame, and desire that oozes from every song on Kiss Land. ‘Love In The Sky’ takes a slightly different approach that makes it likable. Instead of reminiscing solely on their past endeavors, The Weeknd speaks to his lady friend that their love is not made for the world that they live in – that their love is too powerful to be fully explained, or felt in this reality. I understand that the ‘sky’ referenced in the song does not mean the literal sky, but a higher plane of reality – possibly heaven. Of course, The Weeknd slips in several non-subtle sensual lyrics that only adds to his exuberant feelings for this woman and the meaning of the song.

The fifth song of the album, ‘Belong To The World’, is similar to track four (‘Love In The Sky’), in that The Weeknd references his love for the woman and her backstory more than his fame or backstory. He acknowledges that she is ‘dead inside’ yet that she may be the first woman that actually made him have feelings of love. Though The Weeknd may have feelings for this woman, he recognizes that she ‘Belongs to the World’ and no person is worthy of this woman’s love because she is the penultimate woman (in The Weeknd’s mind). My only complaints are that the song drags on at the end, and the meaning of the song becomes horribly watered down by the repeating of the chorus.

The final song on Kiss Land is the song ‘Odd Look.’ Oddly enough, The Weeknd did not create the beats (and possibly lyrics) for this song – French House Music artist Kavinsky did! Nonetheless, ‘Odd Look’ capitalizes on The Weeknd’s raw soulfulness and angst. Hearing The Weeknd in a fast paced song is a literal change of pace from most of the songs on Kiss Land, and his voice, accompanied with Kavinsky’s beats/lyrics, knocks it completely out of the park.

Blue Level Songs:

The Town
Adaptation
Pretty

Explanation:

‘The Town’ just didn’t provide for me as a song. It was generic sounding for a genre that I believe sounds the same a lot of the time, but those songs that ‘sound the same’ at least try to mix in a few differences to spice up the song. ‘The Town’ does nothing out of the ordinary, but isn’t terrible.

Like ‘The Town’, ‘Adaptation’ did not feel like a song I will remember by name if I happen to hear it played at a bar, at a friend’s house, or on satellite radio. Being right after ‘The Town’ on the track list, it seemed to me like a continuation of ‘The Town.’ The lyrics in ‘Adaptation’ are much better than ‘The Town’ lyrics simply because I don’t believe I have heard an artist lament his fame and life (after he became famous) quite like The Weeknd does in ‘Adaptation.’ Intriguing lyrics, bland sound.

‘Pretty’ doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from any other song on this album (or any other R&B track for that matter). The Weeknd is lusting after another woman, and he describes to her how beautiful she is and all that jazz. It’s the simple recipe for most love songs written by men. Yet the instrumentals in this song are what keep it blue level instead of red level. If the lyrics weren’t so simplistic in this song, it may have very well been my favorite of Kiss Land. The French lyrics at the end are lovely, but The Weeknd should’ve worked those lyrics into the entire song.

The track directly after ‘Pretty’ is ‘Tears in the Rain.’ Just like ‘Pretty,’ ‘Tears in the Rain’ suffers from simplistic lovey-dovey lyrics (though more angsty in ‘Tears in the Rain’), but is saved by stupendous instrumentals. There isn’t much else to say about ‘Tears in the Rain.’

Red Level Songs:

Live For Feat. Drake
Kiss Land*

Explanation:

Drake was completely unnecessary in ‘Live For.’ His feature did not want to end. Drake rattled on and on about how he’s toured the world, received plaques (just refers to his ‘plaques’ – I’m assuming they’re for rapping? Sports? Being Canadian?), and nothing more than partying – so totally epic. He mentions his family, but nothing substantial to make a point. The Weeknd’s lyrics are pitiful compared to his other songs because this song is more of a ‘party’ or ‘hype’ song. This isn’t the introspective The Weeknd that is heard in every other song, but rather it is The Weeknd that decided to create a song to fit in Drake to possibly pump up his popularity? I am unsure, but ‘Live For’ is not The Weeknd’s best work (and I’ve only listened to the songs on Kiss Land). I applaud The Weeknd for trying to step out of his comfort zone, though.

I am torn with the song ‘Kiss Land.’ The first half of the song makes me feel uneasy because of the shrill, terrified screaming of the woman in the background music. The lyrics aren’t too strong either, but the first half of lyrics is just The Weeknd urging the girl (and possibly himself?) that all he wants is her body and to set her up as his ‘west coast girl’ – among other things. These lyrics aren’t much different than other lyrics from other songs on this album, but I was expecting more from the album’s title track (and not the screaming of a woman that is terrified in the background for no apparent reason). Yet the second half of the song (Verse 3) The Weeknd turns it up lyrically, and the song slows down slightly. Verse 3 The Weeknd begins to explain how his fame was gained quickly after 21 years of ‘staring at the same four walls.’ This is the second song on the track where The Weeknd laments his fame (or at least his quick ascent to fame in ‘Kiss Land’), but he continues to pour his soul into Verse 3 with his problem with drugs, sex, and life in general. Aside from the disastrous first half of the song (which was so horrid that it made this song a red level song), ‘Kiss Land’ is the *rawest song The Weeknd has on this album.*

Overall:

Kiss Land is an album that I would recommend to any of my musically inclined friends. It has a lot to offer for people that want to ‘relax’ their mind, or want to think about life in general. It is a peaceful, yet thought-provoking album. The only slants I have against Kiss Land are the songs seem to run together in some instances (meaning they’re too similar sounding – lyrically and instrumentally), and the lyrics could be much stronger in four or five of the songs on the album. Nonetheless, Kiss Land is a solid album from an artist that I have never listened to before in my life. You gained a fan The Weeknd.

Final Grade: 7/10

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please let us know! Thank you for reading.

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One thought on “Album Review: The Weeknd – Kiss Land

  1. Pingback: The Weeknd - "In Vein" (Snippet) | @TheWeeknd | - Hip Hop Headquarters, LLC

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