Canadian singer-songwriter The Weeknd dropped his surprise release My Dear Melancholy, on March 30. The 6-track EP sees him seemingly reflect on his heartbreak this past year while returning to his alt-R&B roots.
My Dear Melancholy, comes on the heels of The Weeknd’s 2016 album Starboy. On the aforementioned effort, he delved deeply into pop music, channeling ‘80s Michael Jackson and Prince on some tracks. In early 2017, he started dating pop superstar Selena Gomez. While in the midst of his extensive Starboy: Legend of the Fall World Tour, the two would later break up that October. The music on Melancholy appears to touch on the demise of their relationship and his fallout afterword. “I said I didn’t feel nothing, babe, but I lied,” he sings on opener “Call Out My Name.” “I almost cut a piece of myself for your life,” The Weeknd adds as a possible allusion to Gomez’s kidney transplant last year following complications with her Lupus diagnosis.
On the EP, The Weeknd worked with collaborators both old and new. He re-teamed with “Pray For Me” producer Frank Dukes on most of the project, including “Call.” Mike Will Made It returned the favor as a producer on “Try Me” and Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo from “Starboy” and “I Feel it Coming” comes back on “Hurt You.” French DJ Gesaffelstein, who worked on Kanye West's Yeezus, was brought into the fold as featured act on “Hurt” and “I Was Never There.” The resulting sounds on Melancholy eschews the pop of Starboy for industrial hip-hop beats and electronica-tinged R&B. The Weeknd is on the prowl again, declaring, “And now I know relationship’s my enemy,” on “Hurt.” Then he’s back on loose loving with “Wasted Times,” singing, “I ain’t got no business catchin’ feelings.”
The Weeknd is all in his feelings on Melancholy. The invincible “Starboy” comes crashing down to Earth thanks to the girl who broke his heart. “I’m on the edge of breaking,” he acknowledges on the vulnerable “I Was Never There.” While continuing to take R&B to cool and exciting places, the promising EP makes way for the return of mixtape era Weeknd. On the closer “Privilege,” he says, “I’ma drink my pain away / I’ll be back to my old ways.”