by Elan Lakes, Staff Contributor
“Echoes of Silence” emanates pain and a sadistic love for it to the nth degree. This song is the concluding track of one of The Weeknd’s earliest works, the tape also titled Echoes of Silence. Throughout the tape, Abel (The Weeknd is his professional name) battles with his capacity to express and understand the love he feels (or does not feel). This song is essentially a window into the toxicity that goes hand in hand with the relationships that The Weeknd becomes involved in. Its position in the tape feels like a message from Abel that says: “No matter how toxic we are, we will always be back together again in the end.”
The Weeknd effectively establishes the listener as an observer of a conversation with Abel and his lover. Abel begins his ballad expressing that his lover knew he was treating her poorly, but she liked it anyway. In this moment, The Weeknd sings from the perspective of the one doing the hurting, and not the person that is hurt. With the line, “I like the thrill,” his perspective switches and he becomes the vulnerable, the one that is hurt. He alludes to his own addiction to dysfunctional relationships and the way they make him feel. Ironically, the pain remedies other ill-emotions Abel feels and reestablishes his sense of reality. He expresses a need for any connection at all, even if it is one that always causes him strife. Abel thinks he’s in control, but in actuality he’s just as exposed and defenseless as the women he treats badly. His own weakness is displayed in the rawest form possible. One could even go so far as to say that this song is a conversation between Abel’s submissive and dominant personalities; the part of him that desperately needs love and the part of him that takes advantage of those who act out of desperation.
This work has many of the dark and gripping musical elements that The Weeknd is notorious for using in his first couple of tapes released. The slow piano accompaniment enhances the darker tone that he aims to create. The Weeknd utilizes his vocal abilities with a blend of his angelic falsetto and his full voice that produces a chilling, yet oddly calming feeling when listening. He is able to make dark and agonizing lyrics come off as soothing, when the subject matter is so unsettling. The blend created by The Weeknd’s vocals and the accompaniment truly helps to construct the scene that is being set.
Every time I listen to this song, I feel as if I’m grappling with vicious emotions I can’t sensibly explain. I find myself wanting to get up and start punching air, but at the same time I want to curl up into a fetal position and weep silently in the dark. Frankly, I find it impossible to listen to this song without being reminded of some type of tragic or traumatic memory. Still, as if I’ve been infected with Abel’s masochism, I enjoy the experience.