By Keith Sharp

Still riding a critical high following the mega success of his `Beauty Behind The Madness’ release’, The Weeknd’s follow up has produced a total makeover, cosmetically and musically with the introduction of his `Starboy’ persona. Gone is the `bird’s nest Afro hairstyle’, to be replaced by a more toned-down sophisticated look. And the 18 tracks featured on Starboy excentuate a persona of someone who creatively is on top of his game.

Whether there is another “Can’t Feel My Face” mega hit amongst the 18 tracks remains to be seen but the fact that `Starboy’ topped the charts in over 80 countries 24 hours after the album’s release is a strong testament to Toronto native’s global popularity. Considering that the average attention span of your average teen is like 30 seconds, it’s always a challenge to load up a record with 18 tracks, but understanding that Drake’s `Views’ contained 20 tracks, it’s obvious his diehard fans don’t mind the challenge of sifting through the material in search of those hit nuggets.

And yes, the opening `Starboy’ track sets a positive tone as The Weeknd establishes the persona of someone who is at his creative peak and doesn’t mind promoting that fact. Admittedly, when you are featuring 18 tracks, there’s only so many specific topics you can target and it’s not like The Weeknd is known for being lyrically controversial. So for the most part, the tracks are about his sexual prowess and his successful  cultural lifestyle with a healthy salute to heroes like Michael Jackson, whom he channels on a number of tracks including “Die For You” and “A Lonely Night”.

There’s also a distinctive 80’s vibe to tracks like “Secrets” which includes a sample from Tears For Fears’ “Pale Shelter” and borrows the chorus from The Romantics’ “Talking In Your Sleep” and there’s plenty of star power evident with contributions from French electronic duo Daft Punk (`Star Boy’, “I Feel It Coming”), Sam Smith  and Kendrick Lamar on “Sidewalks”, his old mate Future is featured on two tracks; “Six Feet Under” and “All I Know” and even Lana Del Ray pops up for a brief steamy session on “Stargirl Interlude”

Overall, the basic R&B template is still evident, The Weeknd succeeds in combining electronic funk with a more commercial R&B soul connection and exhibits strong vocal pipes , especially on “Nothing Without You”.

Could this record have done with an editing job…probably. But hardcore fans will relish the challenge of digging through this trove of material while more casual fans will wait to see which singles surface through the atmosphere. Certainly “Starboy, “Party Monster” and “False Alarm” already lead the parade of what no doubt will be a procession of hit singles.

And with a global tour set for 2017 and even talk of a possible Marvel or DC Comics adaption of Starboy, our new alien character might be around for awhile.

Download” “Starboy”, “Party Monster” “Secrets

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