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Young, distressed and fucked up, The Weeknd is the most honourably and openly flawed male pop star in recent memory. The Toronto-born singer/songwriter/producer's self-loathing hazy sex and drug trope is empty and cold, yet his affinity for unhealthy relationship, cocaine-mounted sexcapades and trust issues, provide an intense second-hand experience of hook-up culture and wounded dependency through pop escapism, as any one of us can enter his gritty anarchic world of dungeon R&B without dealing with the repercussions. "Tell 'em this boy wasn't meant for lovin'. Tell 'em this heart doesn't stay to one," Abel Tesfaye croons ardently, summarizing the entirety of his broken pop-star character with the first few words of his third album release, Beauty Behind The Madness. And his flaws are it; they're what we ultimately know of and expect from the ominous dreaded mystery-man, contrasted with his haunting and sonorous voice, which remains the true beauty behind the madness.

Despite all twisted absurdity and anxious isolation barring The Weeknd's drug and sex-dependent universe, Abel's gorgeous brooding voice is universal across pop, hip-hop, rock and R&B music landscapes, while jetting fervently towards global dominance. And his recent 14-track pop epic, after multiple releases, is the project to take him there. Although redundant in content, Abel's emotional accounts are no longer the soundtrack to red district after-hour exploits provided by his 2011 release House of Balloons, as he's taken a leap over into the mainstream this year with January's Fifty Shades of Grey addition 'Earned It', along with current chart-topper, 'I Can't Feel My Face'. He's manufactured his pain into pure pop gold through stadium-rock trap ballads, hoisted up with spacious soundscapes and lush percussion, synths and strings.

For those that have been avid supporters of The Weeknd since the beginning, BBTM is precisely the release fans expected from Kiss Land, but for the conservative herd finally catching on to Abel's warped opulence, the album is more effective sonically than lyrically for top 40 servitude, as the XO-leader's vocals have currently seized the airwaves with chords so spell-binding, it's hard to attribute the angelic atmospheric sound with his disillusioned lyrical innards.

'Real Life' begins the textured work, setting the precedent for The Weeknd's twisted perspective on his ability to function as a decent human being with a working soul. Vocally, he's more polished and melodic than his grittier offerings but it's alongside Illangelo, the producer who provided such backdrops, that sees Abel at his most competent and comfortable like on album cuts 'Acquainted' and the cinematic millennial-sonnet 'The Hills'. Also, enlisted assistance behind the boards from pop-powerhouses Max Martin and Kanye West and featured vocals from award-darlings Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey, offer The Weeknd immediate tier-elevating collaborations that hoist him up from contemporary crooner to global pop star.

As a cohesive album, Beauty Behind The Madness showcases artistic growth and sonic progression through danceable pop deliveries like 'In The Night' and grand acoustics like 'Shameless'. But since House of Balloons, The Weeknd's content has yet to make a drastic shift. Now, rather than making the same late-night mistakes and maneuvering through an emotional cycle of excess in grungy after-hour clubs and cheap hotels, he's perpetuating the dark narratives of self-abuse with models in the VIP of Hollywood's hottest nightclubs and penthouse suites.

The Weeknd knew what he needed to release in order to please his young and intoxicated day one fanbase while simultaneously entering the mainstream running for the current title of King Of Pop. But if Abel has hit a peak conceptually by tackling his flaws, addictions and downfalls on Beauty Behind The Madness, where does he have to go? And will the eventual call for an artistic and personal evolution kill him or save him?

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