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Album review: The Weeknd explores sonic space on ‘Starboy’

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Mike Pizzo

Three and a half stars

The Weeknd Starboy

Canadian R&B singer/songwriter The Weeknd had been steadily building an audience when his popularity exploded last year behind his druggy, dancey chart-topper, “Can’t Feel My Face.” Just over a year later, he returns with third album Starboy, led by its Daft Punk-produced title track, which blends brooding vibes, robot vox and punchy percussions for another hypnotic hit. Even more infectious is the aptly named “Party Monster,” a trap-fueled slow-burner sure to keep dancefloors warm until spring.

The Weeknd has a knack for weaving through musical genres while maintaining his signature reverb-y, bittersweet style. The post-punk-inspired “False Alarm” is sandwiched between the 2-step-fueled “Rockin’” and the nu-disco-ish “Secrets,” the latter an excellent reworking of The Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep.” The flipside of the opening “Starboy” comes in the form of the airy “Stargirl Interlude” (Lana Del Rey guests here), and the chilled-out island grooves continue into the record’s second half, where “Sidewalks” features a show-stealing verse from Kendrick Lamar.

Sadly, things begin to dip as the 18-track album presses on (see: derivative stripper ode “Six Feet Under”), though the final stretch does include the Diplo-helmed “Nothing Without You” and Daft Punk collabo “I Feel It Coming,” which closes Starboy on a high note.

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