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ALBUM REVIEW | R&B

The Weeknd, ‘Kiss Land’

If The Weeknd’s “Kiss Land” were an amusement park it would be dubbed the unhappiest place on earth. The official major label studio debut from the Canadian singer-songwriter, born Abel Tesfaye, chronicles disconnected lives numbed from drugs, meaningless sex, and loneliness. Subversively, he’s still able to make the disaffection sound seductive. The Weeknd’s narrators here are anesthetized, narcissistic, and in crisis. Throughout he sings in a fragile, nearly broken tone about women with “eyes drained of soul” and of a world where “dreams can’t be real.” If love exists, it’s bound to dissipate. On songs like “Professional” or “Belong to the World,” love is an illusion, or perhaps a mere transaction one buys into in order to allay the pain. Unfortunately, Tesfaye can veer toward the portentous with his youthful, conflicted lyrical vision, which often confuses sex with love. At times, he sounds too enamored with the majestic misery of his butterflies pinned to life’s table. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “Belong to the World”


The Weeknd plays Oct. 10 and 11 at the
Orpheum.

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