Another week and another snippet of The Weeknd’s upcoming album Starboy has surfaced on iTunes and Spotify. ‘False Alarm’ follows on quickly from title track ‘Starboy’- this time minus production from French house stalwarts Daft Punk. With this latest single, The Weeknd continues to distance himself from the late-night neuroticism of Beauty Behind the Madness.
However, ‘False Alarm’ still acknowledges old habits (‘Bathroom stalls for the powdered nose’) but moves on from self-loathing admissions to the sting of unrequited love (‘She always leaves the man she loves/But the diamonds are forever’). The increase in pace also establishes a clean break with past records. The intro is built on a taut, high tempo percussion in union with distorted guitar more akin to Maroon 5. The Weeknd’s emotionally numbed vocal tears through the materially-obsessed woman’s back-story as the vocal layers and multiple guitar lines continue to stack up as the track builds towards the chorus. The result borders on an overly-crowded production which is the intention- The Weeknd lingers on multiple details such as her ‘all red dress’ and ‘good time wrapped in gold’. But fortunately, this complex aspect of composition reflecting subject matter is measured cleverly.
‘False Alarm’ is certainly constructed for clubs rather than the dark corners of sweaty house parties The Weeknd usually finds himself skulking about in. The darker tones are ever-present, but the poppier elements of the guitar offset the cosmic ambience of the synths. The percussion continues to gain pace not too dissimilar to the drop in an EDM track before The Weeknd unleashes a tumultuous wail. The chorus erupts into a maddening swirl of punk and dance, marked by demonic chanting, psychotic screams and palpitating synths. ‘False Alarm’ is uncharacteristically deranged, inconsiderately energetic and like nothing The Weeknd has released before. To ditch an aesthetic that has cemented him as an R&B icon is intrepid- and it might just be his best track since ‘Can’t Feel My Face’.
Images courtesy of capitalxtra.com and Consequence of Sound