This track samples Portishead’s Machine Gun, but guitarist Geoff Barrow has publicly stated that they refused sample clearance, as “we usually give sample clearance to tunes we like. its got *** all to do with money!”. Clearly, he’s rubbed some people the wrong way, so I’d be surprised if this makes the cut for his Kiss Land album, rumoured for a 27th August release.
A recent interview with Complex suggested this LP may be an even darker, more negative turn for The Weeknd, and the spiky nature of this certainly packs in a little of that downbeat mood. That being said, it’s certainly not as wholly aggressive as the album’s title track, progressing through a dark opening into a melodic, more uplifting style that borders on outright positivity. The production is expertly put together, opening primarily with Portishead’s stuttery percussive sample for a gritty, rather industrial opening that sets up for a sharp, jagged soundscape; that expectation is slowly broken, as the production introduces increasingly expansive synths, a hint of strings, and most importantly The Weeknd’s progressively emotional vocals. His performance is stellar throughout, gliding over the unexpected twists of the production with consumate ease and keeping a consistent melodic strand running through the unpredictable beat. The lyrics are much stronger than his previous releases too, with an emotional outpouring that much tighter around the edges, and geared more around capturing a synergy with the production than expressing arrogance.
The video’s a very likeable watch. Much like the Kiss Land video, it’s set in Japan with a heavy cyberpunk influence, combining dark, industrial scenery with bright technology for a gritty yet futuristic vibe that benefits from a surprisingly emotive performance from the oft-expressionless crooner. An audiovisual that I’d certainly recommend giving full attention, and I’d argue it’s his strongest video to date. Hopefully, an audio release comes soon.