Table of Contents
- Genre: R&B/Soul
- Release Date: 2022-01-07
- Explicitness: explicit
- Country: USA
- Track Count: 16
- ℗ 2022 The Weeknd XO, Inc., marketed by Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings,
Dawn FM is a concept album in more ways than one. The Weeknd had said in interviews that the album could be likened to listening to a kind of adult contemporary radio station while you sit in traffic in a tunnel, only the tunnel is purgatory and the light at the end of the tunnel is death.
On Dawn FM, The Weeknd really went all-in on a biblical fantasy, blending frisson and fear into euphoric disco and ’80s R&B, with life and death at stake. The album reached number one in 10 countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It also debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart.
The album art shows a headshot of The Weeknd trapped in an older body, having his hair, moustache and beard painted with tints of grey to accentuate the old looks.
His face looks a bit worried and exhausted, creased with wrinkles, as he appears still in that clean, black suit, standing before some kind of light ray which he seems to intentionally hide behind him. It just has that feel of a person who has been hit hard by life’s experiences but later found a light at the end of the tunnel.
The 16-track album has only 3 features and a special guest, Jim Carrey, his neighbour in real life, who interspersed with his playing a blissed-out radio DJ and parody commercials for the afterlife.
He had Quincy Jones as the first feature on the 6th track, telling his tale, detailing how childhood trauma ravaged his adult relationships and smoothly easing us into the next track, “Out of Time”. The second feature on the album was on track 8, “Here We Go Again…” with none other than Tyler, the Creator.
“Here We Go….Again” is marked with screeching strings and squirming synths. The sound is decadent because it’s so discordant.
A sample from a 1983 Japanese city pop song blends into a fine ballad; a Beach Boys member does the background vocals, while Tyler, the Creator raps, “You gon’ sign this prenup,” four times in a row. The third feature comes in at track 18, “I Heard You’re Married”, with rap legend, Lil Wayne.
Production & Vocal Delivery
He executive produced the album alongside pop powerhouse Max Martin and experimental electronic musician Daniel Lopatin, who also goes by “Oneohtrix Point Never”.
The two function like gin and juice—Martin’s glittering effects, Lopatin’s abstractions and absurdity—alongside production from Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, and longtime collaborator Oscar Holter.
The Weeknd’s vocals, still inescapably reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s, are fully in sync with the vibe of every track, rising and falling with the mood presented by each song. His delivery is almost untainted.
Tracklist & Popular Tracks
It’s hard not to be sucked in by the fluttering kinetics of “Gasoline,” even if he’s instructing a lover how to dispose of his body. The rhythm packaged in “Take My Breath,” will have your mind swaying, even if he’s contemplating the death wish of a lover.
The engine only revs up from there. “How Do I Make You Love Me?” has the kind of beats that you can’t help but bob your head to, then tap your foot to, before you find your whole body grooving. Or the propulsive drive given by “Less Than Zero,” even if he’s confronting an ex who has left him devastated.
Tracks like “A Tale by Quincy” and “Out of Time” shares the same feel with songs like the BeeGee’s “How Deep is Your Love?” or 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love.” Slow but groovy. The handful of tracks after those, from “Best Friend” to “Every Angel”, would take you out of the ‘80s dream a bit, sounding a little too much like The Weeknd’s weaker songs from his older albums.
|3||How Do I Make You Love Me?||3:34|
|4||Take My Breath||5:39|
|6||A Tale By Quincy||1:36|
|7||Out of Time||3:34|
|8||Here We Go… Again (feat. Tyler, The Creator)||3:29|
|10||Is There Someone Else?||3:19|
|12||Every Angel is Terrifying||2:47|
|13||Don’t Break My Heart||3:25|
|14||I Heard You’re Married (feat. Lil Wayne)||4:23|
|15||Less Than Zero||3:31|
|16||Phantom Regret by Jim||2:59|
He negotiates boundaries with a lover on “Sacrifice,” alternating between devotion and defiance; “When you cry and say you miss me, I lie and tell you that I’ll never leave,” he hisses, but admits the extent to which he’s already compromised.
He cycles through paranoia and jealousy, only making promises when he feels threatened. “The only thing I understand is zero-sum of tenderness,” he hums early in the album, and for much of the record he flails between articulating that cynicism towards romance and actually conquering it.
It’s a ballad primed for catharsis, building up to a limp conclusion: “Let me be there for your heart,” he wails, a pledge that seems to come out of nowhere and oversimplifies the toll it takes on him. Prior to the album’s unveiling, three singles off the body of work had been released, of which the lead single “Take My Breath” peaked at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100.