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House of Balloons

by The Weeknd

Released March 21, 2011 via XO

Reviewed March 12, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls (74%), Wicked Games (70%), The Morning (36%)

On House of Balloons, The Weeknd makes a moody, atmospheric project the likes of which had never been seen before in R&B by taking risks you wouldn’t expect from a drugged-out 20-year-old on his first mixtape. Throughout the project, there’s a sort of innocence you can hear if you listen closely to his voice that makes him sound a lot like a child puffing his chest out and faking confidence that – combined with the mature and manipulative attitude he takes on on these songs – creates a perfect “devil may care,” wannabe-Lothario aura. The Weeknd excels as a songwriter, with lyrics chock-full of imagery and decadence, adding to the dark and depraved atmosphere of the album. Listening back to House of Balloons 10 years later, and seeing just how creative and groundbreaking yet catchy it was, how could you not think The Weeknd was made for future superstardom? – Alan (9/10)

Ten years removed from his debut mixtape, it isn’t hard to look back on House of Balloons and see how The Weeknd has ascended to superstardom. The singer’s ability to rapidly shift gears and fluctuate between moods is something to behold as he meshes tales of pain and drug addiction with lush, sex-driven sounds, all while maintaining an element of pop sensibility. With his unique brand of dark and atmospheric R&B, House of Balloons marked a turning point for the genre and the beginnings of a legendary career. – Dominick (8.2/10)

As far as the content of his lyrics is concerned, The Weeknd has stayed pretty true to his calling card throughout every iteration of his career. Ten years typically sees a few major shifts in lifestyle for the average person, but the essence of his work - drugs, money, lust, and individuality - is scattered within each of his bodies of work. However, today’s version of the fantastic singer is, sonically, on another planet than that of the man we hear on House of Balloons. While he navigates his typical subject matter, The Weeknd does so with far more focus on the atmospheric, unsettling, melancholy sides of these vices. His voice is impeccable and more than capable of holding center stage among a cast of debaucherous and chilling instrumentals, and while this mixtape lacks the energy and danceability that Tesfaye would adopt later in his catalog, it makes up for it in vocal chops and palpable ambiance. Pax (8/10)

Alan: 9/10 | Daniel: 9/10 | Dominick: 8.2/10 | Pax: 8/10 | DeVán: 7/10

Enth: 6.5/10 | Cam: 5/10 | Hadley: 5/10


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