Kiss Land

The Weeknd

From the start, The Weeknd has fit into the oddly specific niche of darkly seductive R&B, as filtered through some of the smoothest production around. The stage name of Abel Tesfaye, the Weeknd sounds like Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson as filtered through Portishead or Boards of Canada. This comparison is especially apt on the track “Belong to the World,” which seems more than superficially beholden to Portishead’s track “Machine Gun.” Still, Tesfaye and company pull off something magical with Kiss Land, The Weeknd’s fourth album (or first, if you count the previous efforts as mixtapes only — I don’t), and it shows throughout. What Kiss Land does so well is in continuing The Weeknd’s marriage of hypnotic ambient landscapes with soulful singing, creating music equally suitable for an intense break-up or just a cool fall evening.