The Weeknd, "Kiss Land" (Republic Records)
The Weeknd, who became a critical darling after releasing a trilogy of mix tapes in 2011 thanks to his eerie R&B sound, sticks to his guns on his official debut album, "Kiss Land."
The 10-track set plays smoothly, and the singer's falsetto weaves into the tracks nicely. "Wanderlust," which samples Fox the Fox's "Precious Little Diamond," is the disc's most adventurous song: The Michael Jackson-esque tune is energetic, beat-driven and could be a monster hit on the pop charts.
Most of "Kiss Land" isn't as up-tempo, but the Canadian singer doesn't disappoint as he stays true to his soulfully eclectic vibe and progressive R&B sound. The Weeknd's mainly singing about relationships, and on the appealing "Belong to the World," he sings, "But you taught me how to feel when nobody ever would." And on "Adaptation" — which samples the Police's "Bring on the Night"— he sings about regret, "But I chose the life, I chose the life, then I realized she might have been the one, I let it go for a little fun."
While "Kiss Land" is sonically enjoying, some of the tracks sound too similar. Additional collaborators could probably help split up the sound: Drake, who has worked with The Weeknd, adds a ton of flavor to "Live For," a track highlighted by handclaps and lyrics about getting ahead.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MusicMesfin