Toronto-based R&B crooner Abel Tesfaye has been warming up to the limelight after a year of touring and signing to a major, and now his self-released mixtape trilogy chronicling narcotized bedroom misanthropy gets a re-release in remastered form, with three additional tracks.
Tesfaye is one of several young R&B musicians responsible for revitalizing a genre that had been languishing in clubland cliché, and the Weeknd's spare, alluring sound has been subject to intense hype and imitation. But listen to House Of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes Of Silence in one go and you'll find that the music remains impressive. If there's one quibble, it's that as Trilogy enters its second hour, Tesfaye's lyrical ambivalence begins to sound a bit one-note.
This release is more about posterity than necessity. As such, it's hard to shake the nagging feeling that it's a harbinger of a more predictable phase (i.e., the moneymaking phase) in Tesfaye's career. But it's also a reminder that if you remove the distractions - the red carpet, the photo shoots, the endorsements - an artist can succeed on the strength of music alone.
Top track: The Morning