Right on the heels of yet another blockbuster album, two-time Bulletin Award winner The Weeknd has unleashed “Take My Breath,” the lead single from his forthcoming fifth studio album. With “Blinding Lights” still making history and After Hours continuing to hold up as a strong body of work, it may seem a bit soon for a new era. Never doubt The Weeknd. Clearly in a moment of intense inspiration, “Take My Breath” is another pitch-perfect seismic pop single that is sure to dominate radio and streaming well into the winter.
Built around a militant drum pattern, chugging synths, violin, cello, bass, and cymbals, “Take My Breath” is arguably one of the most masterfully produced and arranged pop songs of 2021 so far. The song finds The Weeknd reuniting with Max Martin (“Can’t Feel My Face”; “Save Your Tears”) and Oscar Holter (“In Your Eyes”; “Dance To This”) to help him illustrate a night of passion, lust, debauchery, and flirtations with death. “I know temptation is the devil in disguise / You risk it all to feel alive, oh yeah,” he croons in the song’s first verse. Vocally, The Weeknd creates a call-and-response moment in both of the song’s verses by alternating between delivering the vocal in a mixed voice and a piercing falsetto. This vocal choice adds some further texture to the song and sets up the idea of different characters and voices in his head throughout the night that the song describes. From the slight delirium of his falsetto, The Weeknd contributes his part to building the sonic aesthetic of nightclub life that anchors the song. Giorgio Moroder’s influence is abundantly clear, but sinister lyrics like “You’re way too young to end your life / Girl, I don’t wanna be the one who pays the price” provide The Weeknd’s signature edge.
In a general sense, “Take My Breath” is a well-paced song. Nothing feels rushed, and the song never drags. The pre-chorus is particularly notable in the way that the synths build into the release that’s achieved in the chorus. When The Weeknd sings “take my breath” in the chorus, it’s less of a sung phrase and more of a moment of exclamation. This is then followed by him singing “away” as an exhale, or, better yet, a moment of release. From the big picture to the most minute details, The Weeknd just keeps getting better at curating multilayered sonic experiences. The Dawn can’t come soon enough.