To characteristically minimal fanfare, R&B’s resident soulsick pervert The Weeknd released a new track called “Often” last night. Lyrically, Abel Tesfaye has trod this ground many times before — you’d be hard-pressed to find a Weeknd cut that isn’t about trying to put a damper on deep-seated depression through the healing wonders of emotionless coitus. To Tesfaye’s credit, he does get lecherously creative with his come-ons here; what, exactly, does it mean to “make that pussy rain?” Regardless, he crafts a snappy hook that all listeners would drunkenly sing along to if they weren’t busy smanging/getting smanged.
Not to say The Weeknd don’t have a couple of surprises hidden up that designer sleeve. The song starts inconspicuously enough. For about thirteen seconds, this presents itself as one of Tesfaye’s sweaty slow-burners, all vacant corridors and tortured echoes. But the apprehensive preamble gives way to a sedated beat much closer to the trap sound currently popularized by the likes of A-Trak and Hudson Mohawke. The gut-roiling bass, crisp handclaps and stuttering cymbal mark this one as a capital-B banger. What we end up with, then, is slightly more interesting: a brooding, indecent proposal made halfway between the club and the bedroom.