New ‘Starboy’ spotlights vocal mastery

By: Trever McKenzie ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | The Weeknd’s third studio album, Starboy, was released Friday, Nov. 25 and features collaborations with Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar, Future and Daft Punk.

The Weeknd’s Starboy is his latest release, and while there are many similarities to his last album, Beauty Behind the Madness, there are quite a few standout tracks that deviate from his normal style.

“Starboy,” the hit title track, is a very simple song that is made addictive by the poppy drumbeat, smooth vocals, pleasing electronic backing vocals from Daft Punk and the calm, relaxing vibe of the overall song. The Weeknd doesn’t do any belting or vocal acrobatics like he does in “In the Night.” He sticks to a simple, repetitive and catchy melody that makes you want to groove along with the song while listening. It’s a song you’d sit on the couch and unwind to.

Simple songs are littered all throughout the album. For instance, “True Colors” is a minimalist lounge-style ballad that sticks out amongst the other synth-heavy songs.

The vocals are strong and clear, and the rhythmic instrumentation drives the song along with a dry drumbeat that is almost marchingband in style.

Meanwhile, “Stargirl Interlude,” featuring the sweet, soft vocals of Lana Del Rey, serves as a transition from “True Colors” to the stripped-down synths of “Sidewalks.”

My two personal favorites from the album are “Love to Lay” and “A Lonely Night.” The former features a pounding drumbeat intro that leads into a pop-esque chorus with engaging instrumentation, while the latter harkens shockingly close to something you would expect to find on a Justin Timberlake album, with high, firm vocals and a sexy groove that’s irresistibly catchy.

The vocal prowess of The Weeknd is hard to ignore in this album. Unlike previous albums, where we saw his high tenor range dominate the tracks, Starboy gives us a glimpse into the singer’s lower range, with “Rockin’” showcasing a very strong lower baritone range not normally seen on his tracks. He also uses dissonant harmonies in many of his instrumentals, particularly in “All I Know,” which strips away the drums to allow cold synths to create a haunting backdrop to the clear vocals.

Overall, I’d give the album four stars out of five. There are many notable, single-worthy tracks that give the album a distinctive flavor to outweigh the fact that many songs sound very similar to one another.

Tastes will vary, but it’s hard to deny that The Weeknd has made another strong hit album.