Soaked in hedonism and self-loathing, The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” is a bonafide, soul-shattering masterpiece masquerading as a mainstream album. While the music itself is an exciting fusion of modern hip hop (with traces of classic rock and trip-hop) and soulful R&B (often not unlike Erykah Badu’s later works), the lyrics are often so uncomfortably honest and direct that the album demands a serious, focused and ultimately rewarding effort. The album’s title couldn’t be more appropriate, finding beauty in misery and smothering it with groovy, lush sounds that intentionally cover the real pain that motivated them in the first place. It’s really unlike anything else and is worth checking out, even for the uninitiated.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)