The last time the Weeknd released a full-length project was almost exactly three years ago, when Starboy dropped on Black Friday of 2016. It’s been a turbulent interlude, one that saw him scrap an entire “upbeat” album after the end of his tabloid-magnet romance with Selena Gomez, only to release the heartbroken six-song set My Dear Melancholy, ahead of headlining Coachella 2018.
Now, after a few scattered releases this year, Abel Tesfaye appears to be back in album promo mode. He recently reactivated his Instagram account, where Monday he teased, “the fall starts tomorrow night.” He previewed a new single called “Blinding Lights” in a Mercedes ad — the sort of glitzy neon ’80s pop pastiche that first took him to the top of the charts — then amplified his social media promotion with another post promising, “TONIGHT WE START A NEW BRAIN MELTING PSYCHOTIC CHAPTER! LET’S GO!”
A new episode of the Weeknd’s Apple Music radio show Memento Mori aired on Tuesday night, and it did indeed culminate with a new Weeknd single. But instead of “Blinding Lights,” it’s a well executed sad-trap exercise called “Heartless.” Produced by Metro Boomin, it taps into that other signature Weeknd sound, the one that put the blogs onto him before he went full pop star.