How can we explain the recent success of House of Balloons, the debut album/mixtape released by Canadian duo The Weeknd? One would typically cite Drake’s stamp of approval combined with its free download distribution strategy, the latter playing no small part in working up the music blogosphere’s hype machine. More insightfully, the record’s indie appeal has been attributed to its critique of R&B’s VIP area hedonism. Or we could even consider the hegemonic impact of Pitchfork, not simply in proclaiming its Best New Music status, but in regularly assuring the music world that R&B does indeed have a place in the indie world.
Or do The Weeknd know something that we don’t, as they seem to imply in album closer “The Knowing”? I have my doubts. The album is an enjoyable enough listen, with its R&B slow jams fed through the most broodiest soundscapes of the day. Yet, sticking to a formula, however current and fashionable, has never assured one of indie success. At the same time, though, it’s probably unfair to put it down to good luck, as much as that must have played a part. But I talk too much, and don’t spend enough time admitting how much I love House of Balloons, an album that simply sounds great at this point of 2011, for reasons perhaps only the luxury of hindsight will reveal. – Dan.
House of Balloons is current self-released as a free download.