The Weeknd Revisits His Dark Side With 'My Dear Melancholy,' : All Songs Considered Ahead of his headlining set at Coachella next month, The Weeknd releases a new six-song EP that recalls his earlier, darker days.
NPR logo The Weeknd Revisits His Dark Side With 'My Dear Melancholy,'

The Weeknd Revisits His Dark Side With 'My Dear Melancholy,'

The Weeknd's new EP My Dear Melancholy, is his latest project following his 2016 album Starboy. Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images

The Weeknd's new EP My Dear Melancholy, is his latest project following his 2016 album Starboy.

Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images

The Weeknd has (at least partially) returned to his dark side.

On My Dear Melancholy, the Toronto-hailing singer drudges up a heartbreak and attempts to drown it in modulated piano, muffled sirens and foggy synths. As its title implies — note that comma — the songs play out as maudlin 'memos to self' to keep track of all the things he'd wished he said before their downfall.

Clocking in at 22 minutes, the EP operates like the soundtrack to a fuzzy, lovesick and ill-advised Ambien trip. On songs like "Wasted Times," Weeknd admits his own missteps in the relationship, but the majority of the subject matter focuses on blaming that lost love; criticizing her lifestyle ("Privilege") and egging on her ego ("I Was Never There") while still trying to entice her with breakup sex ("Hurt You").

Production credits on the project include Daft Punk's Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo (Daft Punk credits were peppered through his last album, the Grammy-winning Starboy), Skrillex, Frank Dukes (producer on countless rap gems) and longtime Weeknd collaborator DaHeala (another Starboy alum). French composer and producer Gesaffelstein, whose past collaborations range from Kanye West and Daft Punk to Lana Del Rey, is the EP's only featured artist.

For day-one fans of Abel Tesfaye, My Dear Melancholy is a callback to his earliest release, 2011's House of Balloons, in a cautiously morose way. While House of Balloons, a game-changing release for contemporary R&B, harnessed a drug-fueled sense of anguish, those heartbreaks don't quite feel the same when you're a Grammy-winning, Coachella-headlining musical power player — and they aren't packaged the same when you've got pop-leaning constituents to consider.