The Dawn has certainly been upon us for quite some time, as The Weeknd’s long-awaited follow up to After Hours couldn’t have sounded any better.
After months of teasers and seemingly never-ending tweets, Abel Tesfaye triumphantly returned with his fifth studio album Dawn FM on Jan. 7 — and with it, the second part of a new Trilogy, immersing listeners further into the “sonic universe” he’s conjured.
Dawn FM not only transports you to a dance floor in limbo, but ponders the concept of death while looking back on life. At the end of your road, how would you reminisce and judge your successes, faults, feelings and decisions? Dawn FM’s dreamlike escapade seemingly makes these thoughts an intrepid reality, intertwining the human experience with infectious 80s grooves and jazz ballads meant for divine soul searching.
Dawn FM follows The Weeknd’s endeavor into the unknown — striving to keep afloat following the light amid the darkness. Engulfed in a state of transitionary euphoria, themes of depression, self regret, love and seeing the beauty in death are littered throughout the record, as the “old Abel” seen on the cover seemingly looks back on life’s greatest hits.
“Every Angel Is Terrifying” is a perfect example of Dawn FM’s frame of reference. The track jolts from a cacophony of synths to a haunting spoken word passage, ending with an infomercial selling listeners on the extravagance of the afterlife. A spiritual, ghost-like presence is felt throughout the album, as actor Jim Carrey’s frequent interjections allow the listener to fully sink their teeth into Dawn FM’s layered storyline.
Carrey’s soothing yet eerie narration brings Dawn FM to an entirely different place — sounding as if you are listening along to a radio station you’re unable to change. Enveloping fans into his ‘80s pop-inspired “sonic universe,” The Weeknd’s ability to curate a cinematic experience within his music is seemingly still second to none. As the tracks seamlessly melt into one another, it’s hard to stop listening after you start, as Dawn FM is a narrative titan compared to StarBoy, My Dear Melancholy and After Hours — which lifted Abel to stratospheric heights that culminated at the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show last year.
Scoring high marks from both critics and fans alike, Dawn FM not only eclipsed 60 million streams in its first weekend, but The Weeknd became the No. 1 streamed artist in the world because of it. Topping off the second chapter of his new trilogy with an Alternate World, Tesfaye’s willingness to recall painful memories, openly accept his faults and “free his soul” in the process further proves the level of spiritual and artistic vibrance he illuminates on Dawn FM.
The Weeknd’s vocals are ghostly, luscious and hauntingly swell over each track, cascading into commercial breaks and chilling transitions that bring listeners closer to the light. Punchy 8-bit drums collide with Dawn FM’s warm and airy synths, creating a pulse for the album’s concept of death.
Turning in instant classics like the Thriller-esque “Sacrifice,” the dreamy “Out Of Time,” and ominously infectious “Is There Someone Else?,” the album touts a pair of star-studded features in Tyler, The Creator (“Here We Go… Again”) and Lil Wayne (“I Heard You’re Married”). Both Wayne and Tyler offer short yet impactful subplots to the main story, however, The Weeknd is the star of the showc regardless of his heavy-hitting guests.
Speaking candidly on his success in “Here We Go… Again,” The Weeknd calls back on flows from former Trilogy tracks, gaining a sense of a clarity in the “Here We Go’s” refrain speaking on the repetitive nature of his past flames that burnt out.
Here we go again
Life’s a dream
‘Cause it’s never what it seems
But you’d rather love and lost with tears
Than never love at all
So here we go againThe Weeknd & Tyler, The Creator — “Here We Go… Again”
Other highlights in “Less Than Zero” and “Don’t Break My Heart” further assert Abel’s prowess as a vocalist, repeatedly showcasing his knack for overtaking any track with unequivocal ease. With conflicting thoughts of love and freedom circling his mind, The Weeknd finds solace in letting go of his demons — striving to find peace with himself at the end of the line.
I’ll always be less than zero, oh yeah
You tried your best with me, I know
I couldn’t face you with my darkest truth of all
Cause I can’t get it out of my head
No, I can’t shake this feeling that crawls in my bed
I try to hide it, but I know you know me
I try to fight it, but I’d rather be freeThe Weeknd — “Less Than Zero”
While After Hours was the first act to Dawn FM’s ethereal experience, The Weeknd continues to display a potency and genius that very few artists possess. Ushering in a chilling second chapter of another trilogy, Dawn FM is not only a sonic thrill ride filled with detours, but is a testament to timeless art that never leaves our hearts
Tune in to 103.5 ‘Dawn FM’ below!