If this is the end for the Weeknd, what a way to bow out. Abel Tesfaye confirms his status as an all-time great with an album of icy 80s-inflected splendour

As the first half of his fifth album draws to close with a track called Here We Go … Again – a beautiful, beatless ballad blessed with a chord progression that recalls the Love Unlimited Orchestra’s sublime 1973 hit Love’s Theme – Abel Tesfaye allows himself a moment of self-congratulation. He hymns his appearance on the cover of Billboard magazine at the start of last year, suited and booted, smoking a cigar, surrounded by his “kinfolk”: “Catalogue looking legendary … now we’re cruising on a yacht, we clear.”

By the end of last year, Tesfaye – or rather his alter ego, the Weeknd – was on the cover of Billboard again, accompanying a feature that offered an oral history of the making of Dawn FM’s predecessor, After Hours. Complete with quotes from friends, producers, record company bosses and the tailor who made the suits he wore in the videos, it was the kind of celebration that normally appears in heritage rock magazines and is reserved for august classic albums. But then, After Hours’ biggest hit, Blinding Lights, had just dethroned Chubby Checker’s deathless 1962 smash The Twist as the top Billboard 100 single of all time, a designation based on total weeks on the US chart and the positions held during that time.

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