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Hey! Listen! – Thursday

Swag swag swag, swag swag swag.

By / Posted on 22 August 2011

The Weeknd - ThursdayInternet hypedom exploded to levels unseen since Bloc Party and Black Kids when The Weeknd’s debut mixtape House of Balloons hit the blogs back in March of this year. Toronto singer/producer Abel Tesfay brings a casual swagger so dense and dank that just listening to his R&B jams makes the listener feel like they need a shower and an alibi for the previous night. And now he’s back with the second installment of his year-long mixtape trilogy, Thursday (with Echoes of Silence promised this Autumn).

Immediately, Thursday is nowhere near as grabbing and shockingly lurid as House of Balloons was, which is a good thing as we’ve already got plenty of raunchy grinding material from that first collection. Thursday instead opts to keeps the party going at a chill pace, maintaining an atmosphere of thick sweat, but shying ever so slightly away from the debauchery of its predecessor. House of Balloons also put its best foot forward by front-loading its swaggiest tracks, while the real scene stealers on Thursday linger in the middle. Moments of this mixtape may glide gently past the listener but somewhere between hip-hop wonderkid and former Degrassi star Drake’s guest verse on “The Zone” and the snare-pounding hook of “don’t make me make you fall in love with a nigga like me” on “The Birds part 1,” listeners will start to realize that this is really good, and remarkably personal for swag-drenched R&B.

My main concern is the cover art, which is rather brilliant for Thursday, but might be raising the bar too high. House of Balloons was all greyscale and a single scratched-up photo from an undoubtedly dank party, and Thursday steps up its game with vivid technicolor and a tryptic that tells a poignant story of the scenester party girl… where has Echoes of Silence got to go? The Weeknd could’ve gone the route of Chip Kidd’s covers for Cormac McCarthy’s The Border Trilogy, where the first book was black and white, the second in sepia, and the third full color, but the colors on Thursday are so vivid and pure, there’re nowhere higher to go. The two thoughts that come to mind, either the off-white backdrop of both previous covers will be rich color (highly unlikely) or, in keeping with the “silence” of the title, be sparse and light, with nothing above a 50% grey beyond the name and tracklist.

That’s all a concern for another day, though. Listen to Thursday right now above, and download it at The Weeknd’s website here.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.