The Weeknd has had quite the musical journey since his first album release in 2011. Having originally found his way in the industry as an R&B artist, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye has had huge success with all of the music he has released, selling over 75 million records worldwide throughout his career. His newest release, Dawn FM, is his official move to more of a dream pop/Disco-rock sound, and although it is different to what fans have heard previously, it still remains utterly fantastic.
The album opens up with a soothing intro Dawn FM, with The Weeknd’s vocals coming across as silky as ever. Not only that, but the song contains a monologue from Jim Carrey, helping to set the tone for what the listener will be in for as the album goes on. This concept is amazing, especially as a first-time listener. This then quickly transitions into arguably one of the best songs on the album, Gasoline. This tune really sets the 80’s tone that The Weeknd seems to be going for, in terms of theme on this album. It has a heavy electronic vibe to it, with a catchy beat to accompany it. He has also been notorious (for his past two albums, at least) for portraying a character for each of his albums, and I truly feel that his dedication to his craft enhances the beauty of the music he releases. There is always so much to unpack, not only with lyrics and beats, but with characters and themes that differ from his last album at that time.
Watch the music video for Gasoline down below.
This body of music seems to be constructed in a way where you will get the most benefit out of listening to it chronologically. Many of the songs have an extremely smooth transition to each other, making it a modern masterpiece. For example, when listening to How Do I Make You Love Me? transition to Take My Breath, I genuinely didn’t realise that a new track had begun. Each song seems to be crafted in a way that allows them to be perfect party tunes, whilst somehow still maintaining a relaxing enough vibe to enjoy it at home alone. The drumbeat in Take My Breath really conveys that disco aura, making it an all-around feel-good tune.
My favourite track on the album, however, would definitely be Sacrifice. The tune opens up with the lyrics I was born in a City / Where the winter’s never sleep / So this life’s always with me / The ice inside my veins will never leave – a reference to Abel’s upbringing in Toronto, Canada. The groovy atmosphere it conveys makes it extremely catchy, and the music video is just phenomenal. It genuinely felt like I was watching a scene from a movie. The video uses religious imagery of a sacrifice (hence the name of the song). Alongside this, however, there is a slight contrast, with the use of flashing lights and bright colours.
Watch the music video for Sacrifice down below.
One track that seems to differ from the rest of the album is Every Angel is Terrifying. Religious imagery is used again here, in the spoken piece at the beginning of the track, which is actually a quotation from The first Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke. This series of poems is famous for contrasting religious imagery with darker themes, shown by stating that “every angel is terror”. Throughout this track, however, The Weeknd then goes on to have an interlude that replicates an advertisement, through the tone of voice and background noise. The reference to this as well as the after-life is an interesting choice, and the way in which it is conveyed is extremely unique. When listening to the album in chronological order, it is a strange intermission, but fascinating one at the same time.
Aside from Jim Carrey, the album is filled with many other star-studded features, from the likes of Quincy Jones, Lil Wayne and Tyler, The Creator. Having hip-hop/rap artists feature on such a disco themed album is an interesting choice. At first, I was unsure of what to expect, but I did enjoy both tracks. These features allowed listeners to hear a mix of genres that is not common, and it was done extremely well. I felt that Tyler, The Creator specifically was great – his rhythm fit particularly well with the beat and flow of Here We Go…Again.
Ultimately, Dawn Fm is utterly fantastic. Whilst every album The Weeknd has released has been carefully curated and brilliant, this album allowed listeners to see The Weeknd take on another genre, and do it effortlessly, without losing his initial spark that fans are attracted to. The way he has brought the disco feel back to mainstream music is something I haven’t seen in other artists out there at the moment, making this body of work truly unique. There is truly so much to unpack within the album, from the concepts to the rhythmic beats and artistic lyrics – making 2022 begin with a bang.
Listen to Dawn FM: