Single Review: The Weeknd - 'Heartless' & 'Blinding Lights'

Abel Tesfaye, known to most as The Weeknd, has never been short of dramatic, and his two new releases Heartless and Blinding Lights have us geared up for an explosive release in early 2020 (or with hope, sooner).

The King of the Fall teased all week with cryptic tweets and photos, announcing the start of 'A brain-melting psychotic chapter'. He finally dropped the first taste of what's to come on Wednesday, with Heartless and Blinding Lights in full on Friday.

"Tesfaye is already transporting us to a liminal space in his ever-evolving journey."

Heartless is a rich combination of synth ambience and trappy, unapologetic beats, blended perfectly with his unmistakable vocals. A toast to drill and rap, it's the result we might expect from a collaboration; think back to his previous venture with Future on Low Life. That said, there's a very Drake-esque vibe to the whole track, which scores it that extra repeatability.

Tesfaye's confidence overspills in his lyrics, brusquely outlining his debauched endeavours with models, magazine shoots and drugs. Yet, it's laced with an echoing, lovelorn bridge - he's reopening old wounds, but let’s be real - did they ever close at all?

Image courtesy of Nabil Elderkin

Where Heartless pulls us into the shadowy backstreets we're accustomed to with The Weeknd, Blinding Lights throws us into a dazzling, 80s synth vortex. Fast-paced and hypnotic, from the intro you could half expect him to burst into a cover of a-ha's Take on Me. The punchy riff, which soon melts into Tesfaye's desperate lyrics, feels as though it’s been drawn straight from his Starboy days. There's a truly cinematic quality to this track, offering more of a focus on his new sound than on the lyrics, which mostly echo feelings he's previously established to his devoted listeners. In comparison, Heartless has an intimate complexity to its lyrics, making it the more personal of the two.

With so much to unpack in the seven minutes we've been granted of the new album, the scene is set for The Weeknd's return. This time, it feels vibrant, but not without a dejected tinge. His emotions are being channelled through buoyant sounds of the past, merged with his trademark enigmatic ambience. Tesfaye is already transporting us to a liminal space in his ever-evolving journey.