It’s that time of year again. The Starboy himself, The Weeknd, has returned to the music scene to kick off the campaign for his fourth studio album. The new single, “Heartless,” which will be joined by another single titled “Blinding Lights” later this week, is the perfect mixture of every iteration of The Weeknd thus far.
The melancholic Metro Boomin-produced track sits at the intersection of peerless bravado and overcompensating in the face of failed love. On “Heartless” The Weeknd leans heavily into the trap/alternative R&B sound that dominated Trilogy and My Dear Melancholy. Over a stuttering bass, he raps and sings about money, sex, and success. “Heartless” is a stark contrast to the yearning “Call Out My Name,” Abel’s last solo single. On this new track, there’s a gente vulnerability that anchors the track. Abel seems to be flexing all of his success to prove to an ex-lover, and to himself, that he is doing fine — even if he might not actually be okay. This is one of his most nuanced vocal performances yet.
In terms of the production, as per usual, Metro Boomin delivers an excellent backdrop for The Weeknd to croon on. The production is busier and more aggressive during the verses and it eases up on the chorus, a nice change of pace as most songs uses the inverse formula. The last third of “Heartless,” however, shifts into that spacey PBR&B soundscape that The Weeknd helped pioneer earlier this decade. The pop sensibilities of Starboy and Beauty Behind the Madness, the layered lyricism and vocal delivery of My Dear Melancholy, and the intricate production of Trilogy all combine to create “Heartless,” a hopeful leap forward for The Weeknd.