The Weeknd's "False Alarm" is Definitely Different, For Better or Worse

Abel’s sound takes a few ill-advised left turns on the second single from "Starboy."
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Abel’s sound takes a few ill-advised left turns on the second single from "Starboy."

Although The Weeknd’s Starboy album doesn’t arrive until late November, “False Alarm” marks the second single to drop in the last two weeks from the superstar's forthcoming release.

This, of course, affords Abel the opportunity to garner millions of single streams in the weeks leading up to the release of Starboy, all of which will help to bolster first-week album sales, and nobody is complaining about new music from The Weeknd.

Except me.

After watching the video for “Starboy” the other day, it appeared Abel was ready to take the next step in his artistic evolution, but with the release of “False Alarm,” it's more like a step backwards.

What “False Alarm” offers in the way of showcasing some of the new tricks up The Weeknd’s sleeve, it completely lacks in a feeling of authenticity. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dig the scream he unleashes at the beginning of the hook, but the rest of the track feels contrived, a diluted homage to early 2000s dance-punk.

Lyrically, the content doesn’t stray far from Abel’s usual topics—emotionally unavailable women, cocaine, vague existential musings—but while his tempered, angsty croons usually bring those stories to life, the feeling just doesn’t seem to be there on “False Alarm.”

The plastic punk vibe of the track weaves in and out of moments of The Weeknd that we’re more used to, just long enough to keep the song palatable, and abruptly gives way to a poorly placed ambient outro, which may end up making sense in the context of the album, but could’ve been spared for the single.

“False Alarm” feels like The Weeknd trying to sound different just for the sake of sounding different. After the understated greatness of “Starboy,” this follow-up seems glaringly inauthentic. I’m all for a new and improved Weeknd, as long as it’s actually an improvement.

On “False Alarm,” it's just that: a false alarm.


By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter

Photo Credit: Twitter