Dawn FM

Review of The Weeknd’s latest album, Dawn FM

The album cover of Dawn FM, with the Weeknd as an old man.

Abel tesfaye, the weeknd, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The album cover of Dawn FM, with the Weeknd as an old man.

On January 7th, 2022, Abel Tesfaye, better known as “The Weeknd,” released his latest album, Dawn FM. The album features Tyler, The Creator and Lil Wayne, with narration done by Jim Carrey.

Dawn FM is the second installment in a trilogy that began with 2020 album After Hours. The album follows the theme of purgatory on the way to the afterlife, through the metaphor of listening to the radio station 103.5 Dawn FM, which is hosted by DJ Jim Carrey. The music itself has a sound that almost seems made for radio as well, meshing a standard dance or disco track with lines and a feeling almost akin to dread, with plenty of self-destructive references.  Each song is stacked with imagery. One great example of this is on the opening track Gasoline, my personal favorite on the album, with lines alluding to setting himself on fire.  The pre-choruses goes, “its 5 AM, I’m high again, and you can see that I’m in pain,” and “Its 5 AM, I’m nihilist, I know there’s nothing after this.”

Dawn FM is an attempt to reach at something bigger than Tesfaye previously has, aiming at topics like death and the afterlife.  He isn’t afraid to bring himself back down to earth and talk about things like relationships on songs like “Here We Go…. Again” and “Is There Someone Else.”

The blend between music typical of The Weeknd and the themes of the new trilogy of albums create a balanced mix that results in enjoyable music that isn’t too pretentious to enjoy. The songs all sound similar enough to keep the radio theme of the album together, but most songs have something that is able to set them apart from the others.

The album ends with the outro “Phantom Regret by Jim,” a narrative meant to look back on one’s life and regrets, and the things required to leave purgatory, as “Heaven’s for those who let go of regret/And you have to wait here when you’re all not there yet”, and “In other words, you gotta be Heaven/To see Heaven.”

Tesfaye has confirmed that there will be a third album in the making, thematically geared towards heaven or hell, which will be the final album in the After Hours trilogy.