- By Thomas Kinnard
The Weeknd brings in the Dawn
Canadian songwriter and artist Abel Tesfaye, professionally known as The Weeknd, released his seventh studio album on Jan. 7.
Almost two years after his hit 2020 album, After Hours, The Weeknd dives further into the familiar 80s-esque synth production with Dawn FM. The album was not promoted as much as After Hours, which was preceded by the two smash hit singles, “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights.” This album was preceded by the dance pop tune “Take My Breath,” then minimal promotion until a surprise announcement four days before its release.
The album is centered around a fictional radio station called Dawn FM. The artist himself describes the project as a journey to the light at the end of the tunnel, something that is alluded to with various spoken skits throughout the album. The more upbeat tone of the album and this theme comes off as a follow-up to the long night of hedonism and reckless abandon that After Hours vividly painted.
Dawn FM features musical guests Lil Wayne and Tyler, The Creator along with spoken guest roles from acclaimed actor Jim Carrey and legendary music producer Quincey Jones. After an opening skit that introduces the radio concept, the album starts with the eerie synths of “Gasoline,” which includes some of the artist’s most interesting vocal inflections yet familiarly haunting lyrics, “It’s 5AM. I’m nihilist. I know there’s nothing after this.” The Weeknd croons on this track.
The album glides smoothly from track to track with excellent transitions that immerse listeners in the futuristic radio station concept, finishing with a speech about life that only Jim Carrey could deliver on the ending track “Phantom Regret.” There is also a constant theme of lost love on the album, ranging from desperation for answers on “How Do I Make You Love Me?” to forbidden love on the Lil Wayne track “I Heard You’re Married.”
There is a clear distinction between the heartfelt tunes and character presented on this album compared to the cold, unfeeling tone of his previous album. Dawn FM is filled with lush production that’s almost impossible not to groove to, with undeniable hits like “Sacrifice” or the classic production of “Out of Time,” which interestingly samples a Japanese pop song from the ‘80s.
Dawn FM may be a bit too much like After Hours as it continues with a similar production style, but it stands out on its own by being more cohesive than the artist’s previous work. While fans of The Weeknd’s darker music may feel alienated by the overall brighter tone of this album, it’s a welcoming addition to his discography that anyone, fan or not, could find enjoyment listening to.
Tracks that are a must listen to: Gasoline, How Do I Make You Love Me?, Out of Time and Best Friends.