Review: The Weeknd – Dawn FM
National Music Reviews
The Weeknd= Travis Scott x J. Cole
Kicking off the new year with music from The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) is, in my opinion, equivalent to setting the year up for success. The first week of a new year has an unprecedented sweetness to it with all the resolutions and new beginnings. It’s a period of reflection, and on his fifth album, Dawn FM, The Weeknd contemplates life, death and just about everything in between.
The 16-track album is a distinct, if not intriguing step away from the artist’s previous work. If you were to think of his greatest hits, all the songs that come to mind are club bangers or radio hits; things 20-somethings and teens alike can grab onto. After the astronomical success of After Hours and it’s era, listening to Dawn FM is even more interesting. It’s still melancholy as ever, but there aren’t any stand-out songs that can be earmarked as representative of this new era.
Though released in 2022, it’s clear that the rumination of songs such as “A Take By Quincy,” “Here We Go Again” and my favorite, “How Do I Make You Love Me” come from a period of pandemic-induced reflection. Both the album cover, an image of a clearly aged Weekend, and the ultimate afterlife journey the album takes you through allude to someone who is growing, who is clearly older. On Dawn FM, which is bracketed by Jim Carrey’s oddly soothing radio presence, The Weeknd is maturing. He’s looking back and forward at once, and he isn’t afraid to let us know. It’s a futuristic throwback, balancing on the tightrope of reflection and premonition.
It’s unfair to say the addicting beats the Weeknd is known for are absent on Dawn FM—they’re present on “Gasoline” and other tracks, albeit in an ’80s-induced way similar to Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” and “Billie Jean.” But this album isn’t for diehard fans of the Weeknd. It’s for the artist himself. It’s cinematic, but ultimately just tips the scale of satisfying.
There’s always an inherent risk for an artist of the Weeknd’s acclaim to try something new. It may not pay off for all his listeners, but, in this case, I don’t think it matters. Perhaps this album isn’t his most remarkable for the general public, but it has ushered in a new era of creative exploration for the Weeknd, a transition period of sorts. It’s as if he wants to take us along for his artistic journey, and the soulful, contemplative exploration of Dawn FM is the only the first station we’ll stop at. –Palak Jayswal