The Weeknd | House of Balloons

Self-release (2011)
By CARRIE BATTAN  |  April 27, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

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If there were a graph whose X-axis charted a super-slick, blog-buzz-fueled indie æsthetic and whose Y-axis charted the elements of commercial R&B, the Weeknd would find itself in the farthest reaches of the upper-right-hand quadrant. A cosign from Drake, cover art that would fit in among the raciest of American Apparel ads, pitch-perfectly sultry pipes that hover somewhere between a young Michael Jackson and the Dream, a sleek Tumblr, samples taken from Beach House and Siouxsie and the Banshees — the young Canadian behind this mystery mixtape, Abel Tesfaye, has rolled all of these things into one giant ball of hype that's gotten people eating out of the palm of his hand in a matter of weeks. He has more than flimsy trendmonger bait to keep them coming back, though: House of Balloons is a gorgeous album that pairs moody beats and samples with morbid lines about drugs and late-night encounters, all of it caulked with sex. "The only girls that we fuck with seem to have 20 different pills in them. . . . Rehearse lies to them, and then we fuck faces," Tesfaye sings on "Loft Music" over a sampled version of Beach House's "Gila." It's jaded, arrogant talk coming from a 20-year-old, but that's what it takes to pull off House of Balloon's ambitious gimmicks.
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    Self-release (2011)

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