Artist: The Weeknd
Song by: Canadian PBR&B
Written by: Ali Payami, Savan Kotecha,Max Martin, Abel Tesfaye and Peter Svensson .
Produced by: Payami, Martin and Svensson
Abel Tesfaye has built a whole career around the relationship between drugs and love, primarily using the former to avoid feeling the latter (or, well, anything).
“Can’t Feel My Face” is his entry in the love-is-a-drug pantheon, and its prototypical Weeknd—at least topically. “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you, but I love it,” he sings, and while Tesfaye usually sounds content to be left alone with drugs, here there’s audibly a living, breathing person spiking his dopamine levels. This helps “Can’t Feel My Face” come off less like Tesfaye wielding an overused trope and more like someone attempting to describe strange new emotions using the only language they understand—that of an addict.
But unlike the atmospheric, suspended haze that has characterized most of the Weeknd’s music since it first made its way onto YouTube in 2010, “Can’t Feel My Face” moves. If its propulsive chug recalls last year’s Ariana Grande collaboration “Love Me Harder”, that’s because it’s covered with the same fingerprints—those of pop impresarios Max Martin, Peter Svensson, and Ali Payami.
Perhaps recognizing just how dead-on Tesfaye’s Michael Jackson impersonation was on his cover of “Dirty Diana”, the producers anchor the track with a bass line that could have come from an alternate-dimension Thriller produced by New Age composer Vangelis instead of Quincy Jones. Glossy but not blinding, there’s a throb underneath everything that keeps it tethered to Tesfaye’s underworld, an ever-present reminder that “comedown” is more than just two words mashed together.