The Weeknd - Dawn FM
@theweeknd on Instagram
"The last few months, I've been working on me, baby, there's so much trauma in my life..." The Weeknd from Out of Time
Earlier this year, The Weekend dropped his new album Dawn FM. The Toronto-born R&B artist has been a global superstar for damn near the past decade, being one of the biggest artists in the world today. Dawn FM marks his fifth studio album, and he carries on with the dance-pop sound from After Hours, which is nostalgic to the 80s theme. I like this album, although I’m not sure how much. In saying this, I do believe that Dawn FM will be one of the biggest albums of the year.
He gives us 16 songs, with the essential theme being that we are tuning in to a radio station which is guiding us into the light while we wait to get to our destination. Interludes within help to separate and transition us into the next song(s). The album starts with a radio announcement, acting as an intro to the radio station we are listening to, called Dawn FM. The radio station host is voiced by the icon Jim Carrey. I love this concept because it makes the transitions of the songs sound seamless; it's very well thought out. Especially with the dance-pop song theme throughout the album, it really makes you feel like you’re listening to the radio in the 80s, which is funny because I never experienced that decade.
After the intro, the first songs in the album consist of him essentially playing cat and mouse with his feelings about lovers; he doesn’t know how he feels and he’s constantly conflicted about what he wants from them or even how to love them. He addresses his drug use and how he takes them until he feels dead. He calls himself a nihilist in Gasoline, meaning he’s living life how he wants trying to feel nothing because life has no meaning for him. This is why he is on his way to the afterlife, with Dawn FM taking him to the light. The two singles Take My Breath and Sacrifice also feature in this sequence of songs.
As we draw to the middle of the album, we have the interlude A Tale by Quincy. Quincy talks about his life and not having enough love in his life. This is parallel to The Weeknd and his story, which is why he finds it difficult to love others (just listening to all his previous songs, you would pick this up). Throughout the middle of the album, the songs address further toxic love, with him talking about how he ignored the tears of his ex lovers and how they’ve changed and turned cold on him. Tyler, The Creator assists with this in the song Here We Go… Again. In Starry Eyes, the girl he talks about in this song is a broken girl, making it even harder for him to express his feelings even though he wants to. This girl here seems to be one that he wanted to be affectionate with and make the effort, but this time round, it’s the girl that makes it impossible for him to do.
Every Angel is Terrifying is another interlude, telling us to subscribe to ‘After Life’. The title itself addresses the fact that what we know about angels from media is not true; they can be, in fact, quite terrifying; in the Bible, when someone encounters an angel, the angel tells them to ‘not be afraid’, suggesting that angels are not as beautiful as how our media portrays them to be. In the latter stages of the album, the Weeknd is left spell-bound by a girl, one that he can’t have because she is bound to someone else. Lil Wayne gives us an excellent verse on I Heard You’re Married. The penultimate song addresses a girl that sees him as nothing now, which explains the title Less Than Zero. Phantom Regrets by Jim closes the album off with a poem by Jim Carrey, effectively closing off the radio station. It talks about reflection of the soul and how we see ourselves and how we’ve lived our lives. It’s about letting go of the past, believing in yourself to live the life you want, as long as there is love in it.
I give this album a 7 out of 10. The concept is so creative. The transitions from song to song are executed brilliantly, especially with the interludes and the radio station concept. Furthermore, dance-pop is just a gold-mine for astounding music production. The deep and dark lyrics are so typical of him, but that’s just a reflection of his reality and his relationships. They're so captivating, which is what makes the Weeknd such a quality songwriter (or whoever else worked with him). My favourite songs are Take My Breath, Out of Time, Is There Someone Else? and I Heard You’re Married (feat. Lil Wayne). Sacrifice looks like a smash, but it’s not my cup of tea.
It’s a good album with solid production, but he’s executed much better albums before, with the sound done better in After Hours. Dawn FM is not his best album, although it can compete and even overtake Starboy. In his cover, he transforms into an old man. This may symbolise his demise, which is why he is being guided into the light to his destination, the afterlife. The whole album is heavily conceptualised, and I love the theme. The Weeknd is a true artist, to the point where he scares me as his lyrics can be very cryptic, but there is beauty behind the madness that is The Weeknd’s mind.