While some mixtapes just manage to scrape a shot of the cover, track list and a few kind words published on music blogs, The Weeknd (21-year-old Canadian, Abel Tesfaye), with the mysteriously missing vowel, rushed up to internet fame with his nine-song mixtape, sparking regurgitated debates over how the ‘made for indie crowd’ tracks change the form of RnB today-just another way of saying there’s nothing quite like it at the moment.
Regardless of whether the music is RnB or “indie RnB,” House of Balloons is still an impressive mixtape which plays like a true album. “What you need” is my favourite track and opens with a line from Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat (2001).” It’s the most seductive and pretty much represents what this new slice of RnB is all about.
The theme? Creepy vocal samples and ghostly beats against spaced-out electronic synths. Lyrics sung by the intense vocals of Tesfaye, call for a drugged-up and overly sexual mood especially during the extreme early hours of the morning when a house party refuses to end. Production-wise, there are traces of Frank Ocean and The Dream. With references to sexual indulgences and drugs written all over it, signs of shyness is non-existent in this mixtape. What you hear is what you get.
By Jemelyn Yadao