Since his breakout yr in 2011, The Weeknd (born Abel Tesfaye) has exhibited a eager curiosity in nostalgia. The intro to his third Trilogy mixtape Echoes Of Silence was an Illangelo-produced rework of Michael Jackson’s traditional 1988 music “Dirty Diana,” however “Wanderlust” from his 2013 debut album Kiss Land was the primary full-fledged Eighties pop report the Toronto native ever launched. Beauty Behind The Madness doubled down on that retro aesthetic with tracks like “Can’t Feel My Face,” “In The Night,” and “As You Are,” and following the industrial success of his sophomore album, The Weeknd began incorporating an rising quantity of nostalgic sonics into his releases, therefore the string of hit data like “I Feel It Coming,” “Rockin’,” “Blinding Lights,” and “Save Your Tears” over the previous six years.
When sharing “Take My Breath” final August, it was evident that Abel had already perfected his distinctive model of pop nostalgia, however the important thing query going into the embellished singer’s fifth studio album was whether or not pulling inspiration from previous many years but once more was a formulation that might be each spectacular and compelling. Well, with the discharge of Dawn FM on Friday, January 7, 2022, The Weeknd wager on himself — as each artist ought to do — and doubled down on that signature sound whereas additionally sharing what’s arguably probably the most formidable industrial launch of his profession thus far.
Focusing on the music alone, Dawn FM is an idea album that, narratively talking, is leagues forward of After Hours and everything of The Weeknd’s discography. The story of his earlier studio album, for instance, was far simpler to grasp by listening to the music in tandem with its accompanying visuals, however Dawn FM is greater than able to standing by itself. While you must most definitely have the “Take My Breath,” “Sacrifice,” and “Gasoline” music movies in your watch checklist, it’s value one thing that The Weeknd is ready to convey the central message of Dawn FM by means of the format and construction of the report.
Set inside the transmitted frequency of the fictional — but loosely Toronto-inspired — radio station 103.5 Dawn FM,the album is the music that’s enjoying when you’re caught in probably the most notorious ready room of all time: Purgatory. The disc jockey is Jim Carrey, who solely plans on spinning groovy tunes from the music business’s favourite different Canadian popstar. Carrey excels in his function, performing one of the crucial vivid and inventive album narrations in current reminiscence, and he’s additionally the particular person to introduce Dawn FM’s idea on the primary observe, saying “You are actually listening to 103.5 Dawn FM/You’ve been at midnight for method too lengthy/It’s time to stroll into the sunshine.” Religious undertones and the notion of destiny instantly ensue, however to ease listeners into the album expertise, Jim Carrey hypnotically invitations them to “loosen up and revel in one other hour of business free your self music.” And after cautious consideration, there’s no higher solution to describe The Weeknd’s newest effort.
The record-breaking artist consciously made Dawn FM distinctly totally different from a commercial-free broadcast, by way of actually having a industrial integrated into the twelfth observe “Every Angel is Terrifying” and metaphorically sticking to the polished, retro pop soundscape that has scored him three 8x platinum singles. What makes Dawn FM differ from a commercial-ridden, prime 40 radio program, nonetheless, is the “free your self” side, as each The Weeknd and Jim Carrey unabashedly dig deep into the album’s extra existential matters, from human tendencies like eager for acceptance from others and regretting one’s previous to mortal considerations just like the significance of life and what occurs after folks die.
Dawn FM is a mixture of music that makes you progress and music that strikes you, and though The Weeknd is often in comparison with Michael Jackson, that strategy has led to newly drawn parallels between the XO artist’s new launch and Prince’s iconic 1984 album Purple Rain, each of which discover the ideas of forgiveness and the afterlife. While that’s an comprehensible comparability, it’s finest to take as many steps again as vital and weigh Dawn FM’s execs and cons with out mentioning it in the identical breath as one of many best albums of all time.
While conceptually enthralling, Dawn FM’s most obvious flaw is the byproduct of The Weeknd’s trustworthy marriage to the sound of the 80s. The first 22 minutes of the album are so extremely dense with that aesthetic that the excessive from the standout electropop observe “Gasoline” has already diminished by the point you marvel if you happen to by chance hit repeat on “Take My Breath” when “Sacrifice” begins enjoying. Perhaps it’s simply as a result of Dawn FM’s premise, however there are lots of occasions all through the album the place it truly appears like purgatory, with the limitless pop groove feeling way more eerie than entertaining. Thankfully, Jim Carrey interrupts the printed midway by means of the album to transition the album right into a extra sonically various stretch of tunes, which he refers to as “thirty minutes of simple listening to some sluggish tracks.”
From that time on, Dawn FM rolls out a few of its most anticipated tracks, together with the celebratory Tyler, The Creator-assisted “Here We Go…Again” and “I Heard You’re Married” with Lil Wayne, but after making it three songs deep into the “simple listening,” issues shortly begin to really feel monotonous once more. Once once more, an interlude of kinds refocuses the mission and prevents it from dropping off fully, and as an alternative of one other efficiency by Jim Carrey, the ethereal industrial/skit/spoken phrase efficiency on “Every Angel Is Terrifying” is what makes Dawn FM thrilling once more. The full of life Lil Wayne-featured music leads into “Less Than Zero,” an exceptionally sturdy remaining observe from The Weeknd, and the “Phantom Regret by Jim” outro is the masterful conclusion that brings all the pieces full circle.
At worst, Dawn FM is a two-sided album that may’t select between being a group of lush, nostalgic pop songs or a significant report that’s meant to be contemplated, however even that evaluation is much too harsh. At finest, Dawn FM is a redefining second for The Weeknd as he embarks on the second decade of his record-breaking profession, however in the end, solely time will inform. For now, the Weeknd’s consideration to element and earnest effort on each bridge, verse, beat transition, and radio-themed skit has yielded a surprisingly stunning mission that serves as one other welcome boost to his more and more outstanding catalog. It’s far too quickly to make any haphazard claims about the place it ranks amongst The Weeknd’s different works, however Dawn FM is his most imaginative, haunting, and thought-provoking launch in a really very long time.