Within a year’s time, The Weeknd has become one of the forerunners in an emotionally magnified, peculiar thread of R&B with a mixtape trilogy. Late Wednesday night, The Weeknd gave his rabid fans a tasty Christmas present: his promised third mixtape of 2011, “Echoes of Silence.” After a few listens, the follow-up to the mysterious R&B singer’s stunning debut, “House of Balloons,” and its good-but-not-great sequel, “Thursday,” appears to represent a sonic combination of his two previous albums in the best way possible.
While “Balloons” was built around dark, dangerous hooks and subtly crafted beats, “Thursday” was more experimental, pushing its production into more complex territories and tinkering with Abel Tesfaye’s song structures. “Echoes of Silence” essentially draws upon the strengths of both albums: tracks like “Next” and “Same Old Song” are straightforward and seductive, while “Initiation” and “Montreal” take detours with the use of vocal distortion and multi-lingual depression. Tesfaye is learning when to take risks and learning when to just let his breathtaking pipes shine, and that balance creates a cohesive 9-track product.
“Echoes of Silence” immediately stands as another accomplishment for the Weeknd, a name that will likely be on everyone’s lips in 2012. Where Abel Tesfaye goes from here is anyone’s guess, but for now, we have another nine songs of harrowing, engrossing R&B. If nothing else, check out “Echoes” for “D.D.,” the Weeknd’s reinterpretation of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” that does the King of Pop justice.