Monday, April 11, 2011

The Weeknd - House of Balloons

A few Sundays ago, a Canadian collective called the Weeknd released their nine-song mixtape, House of Balloons, on their web site. Though they were quick to deny the direct involvement of Drake's sonic architect, Noah "40" Shebib, the apparitions in The Weeknd--no official members have yet come forward--have been heavily co-signed by the Toronto star. Why? Because they are Canadian countrymen? Because the Weeknd's spacious, moody r&b deconstruction further cements Drake and 40's reinvention of the genre? Is it just pure aesthetic appreciation? They're all probably true. What is irrefutable is the calculation that has thus far gone into this project.

House of Balloons is impressive. It's patient, often gorgeous, and consistently louche--sex, drugs and drink seem to be the raison d'etre--with the sort of blown-out underbelly and echo-laden crooning that has already made Drake's less-than-a-year-old Thank Me Later such an influential guidepost. The cover, a photo of a nude woman in a bathtub, her face obscured by black and white balloons, is pure Purple Diary.

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