My Dear Melancholy is The Weeknd's first extended play (EP) that was released on March 30, 2018 through XO & distributed by Republic Records.
The album has been described as a return to the darker style of The Weeknd's earlier work such as "Trilogy" and "Kiss Land." It received generally favorable reviews and debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200.
On March 3, 2018, rapper Travis Scott teased a new album by The Weeknd on Twitter, referring to it as "scary" and comparing it to when he "first heard" his music.
Later that month, The Weeknd suggested that he was in the finishing stages of completing a new project, sharing multiple silent videos on Instagram of a recording studio, with the caption "mastering." This followed several months of in-studio pictures shared on the platform.
On March 28, 2018, he teased the release of a new project, posting a screenshot of a text-message conversation between creative director La Mar Taylor and himself, concerning whether or not they should "drop [a new project on] Friday."
The next day, The Weeknd announced the project to be released that night, sharing its cover art and title. On February 22, 2018, he had previously shared an image of the album's title written on a notepad.
Following the album's release, vertically-orientated music videos for "Call Out My Name" and "Try Me" were released exclusively through Spotify.
Music & Lyrics
The project has been described as "darker" than the Weeknd's previous studio releases "Beauty Behind the Madness" & "Starboy." It has been described as a return to his earlier work though with more electronic music based production with Israel Daramola from Spin describing it as him "returning to the darkened drug den sounds of his earlier work".
"My Dear Melancholy" is characterized as an alternative R&B, R&B and electropop project with production credits from Skrillex and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo from Daft Punk. The EP's only feature is techno artist Gesaffelstein who produced the tracks "I Was Never There" and "Hurt You."
Lyrically, the album focuses on heartbreak and anger related to a breakup. The lyrics focus around The Weeknd's past relationships, mainly with model Bella Hadid and singer Selena Gomez, the latter being highly publicized. The theme is a complete change from The Weeknd's past two projects which were pop-based and more mainstream.
The Weeknd sings in relation to Gomez' kidney transplant operation and her relationship with Justin Bieber with CNN's Lisa Respers France labeling Gomez as his "muse." The Weeknd uses Gomez' lyrics from the song "Same Old Love" on the song "Wasted Times" in a way that Billboard described "tormenting."
- Call Out My Name
- Try Me
- Wasted Times
- I Was Never There
- Hurt You
"My Dear Melancholy" was streamed more than 26 million times on its first day of release on Apple Music. According to Republic Records, this was double the amount of streams that were obtained on Spotify, although Spotify claims that it was able to rake up 29 million streams in 24 hours.
The EP was projected to move between 165,000-180,000 album-equivalent units first week and it eventually moved 169,000 album-equivalent units with 68,000 being pure sales, hitting #1 on the Billboard 200.
"My Dear Melancholy" was also the shortest album (by track count) to top the Billboard 200 in eight years, a feat previously done by "Glee: The Music, Journey to Regionals." As of July 2018, it has sold 117,000 copies in the United States.
"My Dear Melancholy" was met with generally favorable reviews. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 63, based on 16 reviews. Aggregator AnyDecentMusic? gave it 5.7 out of 10, based on their assessment of the critical consensus.
Alex Petridis of The Guardian stated that it "abandons the pick'n'mix and indeed hit-and-miss approach of previous album Starboy in favour of something more cohesive: uniformly downbeat and twilit, it flows really well", but criticized its lyrical content.
In a positive review, Ryan B. Patrick of Exclaim! commented that the project serves "as a soft reset of sorts, a musical palette cleanser that takes stock of what the Weeknd has accomplished thus far."
For NME, Jordan Bassett called the album "thrilling", praising its tight and concise nature and "notable moments of stylistic brilliance" evident in Gesaffelstein's contributions; however, he criticized its lack of character, nothing that The Weeknd's predictability has led to his "impact [becoming] increasingly scattershot".
Online publication HipHopDX commented that the EP "doesn't break any new ground, and — as he's done in the past — revisits elements of previous projects. However, without the bloated tracklist of Starboy, and any attempt to please an audience outside of his core, the lack of innovation doesn't seem take away from the concise, focused, conceptual nature of this well-produced R&B gem."
In a mixed review for Pitchfork, Larry Fitzmaurice wrote that the project "finds him in limbo between the bleary-eyed vibe of his early mixtapes and the bulletproof pop stylings of his last two albums", praising the album's production and "Tesfaye's still-sharp ear for cool, contemporary sounds", but criticized similarities to his earlier work – specifically between "Call Out My Name" and "Earned It", as well as "Hurt You" and "I Feel It Coming" – and concluding that "it's too early in this stage of Tesfaye's career to so obviously attempt to replicate past glories".
Israel Daramola of Spin criticized the album's lyrics as "mopey" and "whiny", and its production as "endlessly sludgy and murky", writing that the album "is incredibly self-involved and self-pitying, nothing but surface-level introspection that shows a lot of emotion but none of it in the service of anything but the singer's ego".