Whether you think of Anti, of Lemonade, or of Blonde, this year's been all about the limited-preview album drop. Luckily for us, The Weeknd's new album, STARBOY looks like it might just buck the trend. It didn't seem that way initially. Just a year after his hit album, Beauty Behind The Madness, The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) began teasing his public in the most 2016 of ways. On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the singer posted a clip of music Entertainment Weekly described as being a "lush, ethereal clip carried by his signature falsetto," but which The Weeknd reportedly deleted shortly after. However, happily for us, more recently, he's been opening up about his upcoming album, even going so far as to post some seriously exciting cover art on Instagram, and it's got me all overexcited for the album drop.
The image was shot by the photographer/film director Nabil Elderkin, who has worked with all sorts of stellar talent in the past: he's shot images for the likes of Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver, John Legend, and so many more. You can tell he's good: the still manages to recall Pop Art, retro B-movie poster design, and technicolor all at once. Plus, it's got the same party-hearty but menacing tones that call to mind any The Weeknd album of the last few years.
The singer has actually been teasing this album for longer than you'd think. In an interview The Weeknd had with Vogue in May, he mentioned he was back in the studio working with the production team behind the mixtape that caught the public's attention, House Of Balloons. "Creatively, some magic is happening right now, and I don’t want to lose it," he said. In the same interview, he cites one of his inspirations as Daft Punk and says "One of my biggest dreams is to work with them."
This is exciting because, if one loose-tongued record representative is right, there's a decent chance Daft Punk has collaborated with him on the upcoming album. While talking to Billboard, Republic Records executive Wendy Goldstein accidentally mentioned in a video interview that she was putting together a studio session for Daft Punk and The Weeknd. This might imply a heavier dance music focus this time round.
According to a conversation The Weeknd had with VMAN on September 6 there's certainly a lot of diverse influences operating on him this time round. He said:
The production feels aggressive but still sexy. The Smiths, Bad Brains, Talking Heads, Prince, and DeBarge play roles. We wrote it all in Los Angeles. I think it’ll be the best-sounding album I’ve ever done. It’s hard to label the sound because, when I first came out, nobody would label it R&B. I just want to keep pushing the envelope without it feeling forced.
In the same interview, he implied that those who would categorize him according to his audio influences alone would be doing his music a disservice:
David Lynch, alongside David Cronenberg, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese play a huge part in my brand, my looks, my sound, and my aesthetic.
One aspect we could also read a lot into is the way in which he publicized the album art and name via Instagram. Shortly before publishing the still, the singer deleted all of his previous posts — could this imply he's ready for a totally fresh start? If this was the case, then I'd imagine a whole new sound could be in the works, which makes me even more psyched about the new release.