On March 30, Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) released “My Dear Melancholy,” a six-track EP with aggressively yearning lyrics and reverb-heavy vocals. It’s another Weeknd project thoroughly based on the women in his life. Although there has been no confirmation, upon deeper analysis of lyrics, it looks like a few songs are inspired by his feelings on the still-recent breakup between Tesfaye and Selena Gomez.
The first track seems pretty indicative. “Call Out My Name” features longing vocals and lyrics riddled with references to public happenings in Tesfaye and Gomez’s relationship that provide a look into how Tesfaye is processing his feelings. “Won’t you call out my name? (call out my name) / Girl, call out my name, and I’ll be on my way and / I’ll be on my…” They used the “on my way” phrase in reference to each other many times during their relationship.
The song is full of deep and complex emotion. “I claimed you so proud and openly / And when times were rough, when times were rough I made sure I held you close to me,” Tesfaye sings. He’s clearly grappling with something, and the driving lyrics keep the interest of the listener.
On “Try Me,” The Weeknd goes for a similar sound, with echoing, strong vocals, and trap-influenced beat. He seems to continue to sing to an ex, with lyrics about his desire for this woman to “try” him. His introductory lyrics are pretty telling. “Any time is the time / Any time for you to get my call, baby / Are you alone, baby? / If he ain’t around, pick up your phone, baby.”
“Wasted Times” repeats his desire for this woman. He introduces the track by crooning about how he wasted his time with other girls: “she wasn’t even half of you.” He continues to try to earn this woman back, bragging about sexual prowess. EDM and dubstep influence is all over this track, as Skrillex logged co-production and writing credits on the track.
“I Was Never There” is the centerpiece of the project. He opens the song with a strong statement, making his emotions felt. “What makes a grown man wanna cry? / What makes him wanna take his life? / His happiness is never real.” These evocative lyrics are reminiscent of past songs where Tesfaye would speak on themes of suicide. These lyrics, paired with a slow, stirring beat, reveal that he struggles with his mental health in the face of relationship issues.
He repeats the phrase, “When it’s time, when it’s time, when it’s time / It won’t matter, it won’t matter” about 12 times, ruminating on his feeling of futility.
Featured on the track is Gesaffelstein, a French artist who has a long history of working in hip-hop and R&B, most notably producing two tracks on Kanye West’s “Yeezus.” His influence is evident, as some synth lines are directly reminiscent of “Yeezus.”
The final piece of the mini-album is “Privilege.” Although a clear opportunity to address his own privilege during these hard times, he flips it and requests that his ex (probably Gomez again) enjoys her privilege, because he’s not going to be with her in the night. He talks about how much he supported her while she was suffering: “And I don’t wanna hear that you are suffering / You are suffering no more / ‘Cause I held you down when you were suffering / You were suffering.”
There is some nice sentiment, at least; “We said our last goodbyes / So, let’s just try to end it with a smile.” He might not be such a shallow guy after all. The song works perfectly as an outro, with melodies fading out, possibly representing his feelings toward his ex-lover.
Overall, the album flows well, and Tesfaye’s incredible vocals stay consistent with the work he’s put out before. Although he didn’t really expand too much or explore much new territory production-wise, it’s still a good project.
Despite a run time of only 22 minutes, The Weeknd proved he’s not going anywhere, and he will continue to haunt listeners with his longing lyrics and rattling production for years to come.