The session was held in New York City's famed "Korea Town" district at a quaint karaoke bar named Maru. The elevator to the building was broken, so a hike up several flights of stairs was the only strenuous part of the evening, as the dimly red light venue was hugged by the smooth sounds of Abel Tesfaye upon entry. The Weeknd was not present (only adding to his mystique), and media guests were ushered into private pods with just a few other guests. Large plates of food were provided in addition to shots of Shōchū (Alcohol). On the screens were muted videos that showed everything from K-Pop performances to Korean martial arts films. As for the album, well, there are some treats on there.
The first half of the project is dense, opening with the cerebral "Professional" and carrying into a slew of dynamically electronic compositions that use The Weeknd's voice as more of a flexible instrument and less of a beautiful accessory like his most recent works. Leaks like "Love In the Sky," "Belong To The World," and yesterday's surprise of "Live For" with OVOXO partner Drake set the stage for the second half of the 10-track (with two bonus cuts) project. Things get exciting with the second half, as "Wanderlust" is full of life with elements of electro-funk, house, and sturdy hand claps, leading into the sexy title track. The Weeknd flexes his vocals on "Pretty," proving that his chops have grown since we first heard him on his debut, 2011's "House Of Balloons." The project closes with "Tears In the Rain," a track that keeps The Weeknd's sentiment in tact for crafting hymns about heartache, heartbreak, and body ache (from either chemicals, the fame, or love).
The esoteric half of The Weeknd's fan base will crave the first half of "Kiss Land." However, those who have welcomed him into pop's periphery will have a much better time with the second half of the work. It isn't safe to say the album is for "everyone," though anyone can appreciate the growth in The Weeknd's voice and his maintenance of his daring to be different mantra. Check out the official tracklist below, and "Kiss Land" arrives September 10th.