After Hours explores the territories that are unusual, some that are nightmare inducing, but he continues to seek inspiration from his most frightening surroundings.
Continuing the sequence of his previous release, My Dear Melancholy, album openers, "Alone Again" and "Too Late" are menacing and chaotic emotional drum and bass numbers that are entirely to eerie. Abel then disconnects from reality, taps into a phase of self isolation, as he comes face to face with his demons and begins to shift the perspective. Snowchild is a retrospection of the lifestyle he had no choice but to adapt too. It’s a life or death situation; a choice of heaven or hell, as he desires to break free before he falls into the trap once again on the ruthless slow burner "Escape From LA".
Cinematically unfolding the continuous plot of his new reality, each song acts as a scene that is specific to the storytelling. Such is apparent as he introduces a new shift in character on "Heartless". Album highlight, "Faith", indulges in the self pursuit that brilliantly transitions into "Blinding Lights". The storytelling reaches the climax, as on the outro of "Faith" he sings "I ended up in the back of a flashing car, with the city shining on my face, the lights are blinding me again". Directly fading into "Blinding Lights" it’s apparent that he has lived up to his regrets, and now sees his world in chaos, one that he caused.
Shifting gears in sound, the latter section of the album are advanced, hi-fi synthesized pulsating retro infused modern tunes (the sax solo on In Your Eyes is impeccable). But just as the After Hours short film suggests, the unimaginable has occurred, the lights dim down, and he has become numb to all emotions. "Until I Bleed Out" suddenly closes out on a note of realization, as he has become paralyzed from experiencing the high of substance abuse, and the emotions of a love that was all just an illusion.
After Hours is a progressive, commercially ambitious album that continues to prove that The Weeknd is in a tier of his own. It’s no coincidence that the album was released on the eve of the anniversary of his game changing mixtape, House of Balloons. As once again, The Weeknd challenges his contemporaries, and redefines the status quo on a complex, forward sounding record at the height of a new decade.