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The Weeknd: Echoes of Silence  

Self-released

A fast bastion of the emergent soft-rap/reverb-laden R&B movement (see also: Drake, Main Attrakionz), the Weeknd's Abel Tesfaye has already proven his mettle with two 2011 albums (Thursday and House of Balloons) self-released to great acclaim. The third in the proclaimed trilogy, Echoes of Silence, solidifies Tesfaye as a genuine talent. With impeccable production from Illangelo and Clams Casino, Echoes is in many ways a continuation of the Weeknd's last two records. But opener "D.D.," a booming track that features Tesfaye's best MJ-circa-"Thriller" impression, and expansive centerpiece "XO/The Host" display a changing direction for the Weeknd's night-into-morning sound. It's moody and explosive, still disarmingly tender but more nervously assertive than before, a strange blend of tweaked-out paranoia and sticky comedown malaise altogether much more convincing than Drake's sensitive megalomaniac act. After a while Echoes starts to feel a little cyclical; still, the Weeknd seems on the precipice of something great.

(3 out of 5 stars)
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