There's a place where lust, fear, pleasure, pain, and dreams collide.
It's really hidden in plain sight, but it can be unlocked by anyone who's prepared for it. Beyond a veil of emotions and a mist of thought, it lies inside of everyone but outside of everything. It's called Kiss Land, and you've got the keys. Close your eyes and come in. Just beware. You might never be the same afterwards. Isn't that the point though?
Isn't that why you came to this place to begin with?
THE WEEKND, sometimes known as Abel Tesfaye, has certainly been there. He's no stranger to nights lathered in neon, sweat, and blood and mornings where the sun burns harder than the hangover. Over the past two years, the Toronto alternative R&B mystic's three critically lauded independent releases turned into a chart-topping platinum-selling epic, Trilogy [XO/Republic Records].
A world tour ensued, and the jaunt's most pensive and perverse moments struck a chord inside of the singer, songwriter, and producer. After sold out headline shows, he started exploring his thoughts, ruminating on sex, embracing his fears, and building what would eventually become Kiss Land. It isn't simply his second musical statement. It's a new artistic dawn altogether encompassing all of the senses.
Songs like "Love in the Sky" directly mirror those dark moments in hotels after the party has ended, the girls have gone home, and the chemicals have worn off. Synths puff along to a tribal beat as guitars echo. Soon, THE WEEKND's instantly recognizable falsetto takes to the skies.
Crooning, he admits, "I'm flying around the world. I've been killing these shows, but I'm always getting high 'cause my confidence is low. And, I'm always in a rush—ain't no time to fuck slow". For as candid as he can be, before the rain falls, he assures, "You'll learn how to love how to dream".
For the artist, those dreams become more lucid than ever before. A harp swells with a lithely plucked acoustic guitar after an industrial hum takes hold during "Live For". The singer's impressive harmonies hypnotize as longtime friend and sometimes collaborator Drake delivers an emotional verse, matching the same terse potency and poignancy of the vocals. "You have to do it all just to know where it gets you," THE WEEKND sings.
Instead of embracing the usual influences, he immersed himself in the seminal work of legendary directors such as Ridley Scott, David Cronenberg, and John Carpenter. He culled inspiration from there, but he didn't replicate anything. He interpreted evocative ideas and ideals through his own filter. As a result, the music reaches a cinematic apex here, unfolding more like a film than a typical album.
There's a narrative arc to Kiss Land underneath the pops of keyboards and swooning vocal meanderings. You can see it within the sprawling eight-minute clip for "Belong to the World" shot on location in Tokyo, Japan. The story runs through a cyberpunk landscape replete with flashes of sex and strains of heavenly harmonies that could only come from this particular voice. Meanwhile, the video for the title track "Kiss Land" twists inspired Japanese sleaze into a seductive elegy upon the vacuousness of his tryst with the road over the past 365 days.
"This ain't nothing to relate to," he murmurs.
That's the magic of the music. It shows every facet of the night from the attractive to the repugnant. However, that's been the artist's forte since he first appeared in 2011 with his three online offerings House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. As the story goes, Drake became an early champion—one of many—and struck up a bond that extended to his own team OVO (October's Very Own) and XO the cadre of visionaries behind THE WEEKND.
THE WEEKND became one of the go-to voices in music. Everyone from Wiz Khalifa to Juicy J has enlisted his talents for singles. Meanwhile, he became a live draw, joining both Drake and Florence + the Machine for full tours. Of course, there's the shower of critical acclaim too—spanning from Complex, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and Spin to MTV, BET, XXL, and The Source. After two years of complete press silence, he collaborated with Complex for the magazine's cover, allowing readers into his world. Just like with his music, THE WEEKND always seems to find the perfect and delicate balance of mystery and vulnerability in whatever he does.
Kiss Land can turn you on or make you think. It might make you smile, or it might make you cry. The music can be overtly futuristic, or it can be starkly classic in every regard. It's an experience, and it's a place you'll never forget.
THE WEEKND has opened the door. Now, Kiss Land belongs to you.