My Dear Melancholy was dropped with such nonchalance it must have had PR hacks at Republic spitting feathers. With no promo fanfare, corporate hashtags, or social media teases Abel Tesfaye dropped his latest EP as an Easter treat for fans. “I’m indifferent to be honest” was all she wrote.
While Melancholy is not a landmark recording it is a good tonic for the flabby, ambitious Starboy. The emphasis is very much on the falsetto-whittled fuck boy R&B that made the Weeknd a household name. He’s still very good at that. ‘Try Me’ balances elements of trap with touches of euro-house. ‘Wasted Time’ is elevated by a unique vocoder effect, where stutter-breaths of static feed into the percussion.
The general lack of pace which has hampered Tesfaye from the beginning is still here – and it is no coincidence the best tune (‘Hurt You’) is also the liveliest. My Dear Melancholy is a stop-gap, a status update on what Weeknd’s been up to since Starboy. Whilst fans will be pleased with a return to the Trilogy sound, casuals will be left cold. “I’ma fuck the pain away” is certainly not a signature line from Tesfaye, as he closes on the middlebrow ‘Privilege’ – a shame given the current context of the word.
My Dear Melancholy is a return to the nihilistic, hedonistic pills-and-thrills slow songs of old. More fodder for the ‘Chill’ playlist on your Spotify that is intended for anything but.