After a rollout that was months in the making, The Weeknd has finally pulled the curtain back on his fourth album, After Hours. It had been a wild ride up until the project’s release on Friday (March 20) — Abel spent the winter dropping a handful of singles and dazzling music videos, blowing our minds with innovative late-night performances, and sharing an extended look at the album’s gritty universe in a dark short film.
The expansive sonic journey was previously described by The Weeknd as a “brain-melting psychotic chapter.” That was certainly mirrored in his chaotic “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights” videos and in the album’s bloody-mouthed aesthetic, and it seeps into all 14 tracks on the new project. After Hours is bookended by the sinister title track — which features one hell of a beat switch halfway through — and the creeping closer “Until I Bleed Out,” on which he repeats that’s he’s “so paralyzed” and “so terrified” of not feeling the ground anymore.
The rest of the album covers synth-pop jams “In Your Eyes,” power ballads like “Scared To Live,” and brooding R&B cuts like “Escape From LA.” Perhaps most surprisingly, the project doesn’t include any features — a major divergence from his last album, 2016’s Starboy, which featured A-listers like Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey, Daft Punk, and Future.
Hours before releasing his new album, The Weeknd dedicated After Hours to a longtime fan named Lance who recently passed away. “RIP LANCE aka XOPODCAST. You were one of the true original backbones of my XO fanbase,” he wrote, commemorating the fan who ran both the XO Podcast and the @TheXOPodcast2 Twitter account. “Can’t believe I’m finding out about this today. I’m dedicating After Hours to you, my friend.”