12 O'Clock Track: "John Carpenter" is the dark, dirty return of the Weeknd

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Kiss Land
  • Kiss Land
Last week the world finally got a preview of the highly anticipated official full-length from the Weeknd, aka Toronto's Abel Tesfaye. Tesfaye made a pretty gigantic impression on the hip-hop and R&B communities in 2011, when he dropped three stellar and highly acclaimed mixtapes on his website. Originally released behind the internet's hood of anonymity, these three records featured spaced-up, drugged-down production and bleak, desperate lyrics about the dark side of an excessive, glamorous lifestyle sung by a smooth, sweet Michael Jackson soundalike. The songs walked an uncomfortable line between depraved and sexy, the futuristic beats propelling songs about drug withdrawals and loneliness. It was incredibly catchy and beautiful, but it was all very, very real. The mixtapes—most notably the first of the three, House of Balloons—wound up putting Tesfaye on the stages of last year's Lollapalooza and Coachella. I actually caught him at an intimate stop at Lincoln Hall on his tour following the latter festival, and he was backed by a pro-gear, airtight band of session musicians. The show was great, but was almost too well-executed to make the absolutely unfun subject matter of the songs convincing. So when word of new Weeknd songs came out, I was concerned that perhaps Tesfaye's new brush with fame had changed the way he made music—would these new songs still be heavy and creepy and dirty, or would they be slick and radio-ready, like his live show was? Today's 12 O'Clock Track is "John Carpenter," one of two tracks released last week as a sneak peek of his upcoming Kiss Land LP, and it proves that I really had no reason to worry. This is the type of song that makes the Weeknd so great. Take a listen after the jump.

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