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The Weeknd - Dawn FM (Album Review)

Wednesday, 12 January 2022 Written by Matty Pywell

The Weeknd’s ‘Dawn FM’ has arrived with little fanfare. An announcement almost out of nowhere, following up scattered hints, set in motion a short run of excitement but, in truth, The Weeknd doesn’t need to pull out all the promotional stops when he’s made one of his best records to date. The songs speak for themselves.

Another chapter in a story that started with 2020’s ‘After Hours’, ‘Dawn FM’ is the follow up that sees The Weeknd wander into a crumbling dystopian vision. We’re experiencing the radio station that exists in purgatory, and in these surroundings Abel Tesfaye is more self-aware than ever before.

Admitting to flaws and past mistakes, lines such as “I’m staring into the abyss, I’m looking at myself again” explore nihilistic tendencies that gather a picture of someone unsure about meaning in light of the ever-present threat of death.

Here, connection with somebody else is modelled as something that is necessary for survival, or at least a tangible distraction from the existential.

‘Dawn FM’ is a dark R&B fantasy where glossy synths serve to cover the cracks of impending doom. The production was mainly in collaboration with Max Martin and Oneohtrix Point Never and every track shimmers and pulsates in its carefully constructed aesthetic. 

Take My Breath is a perfect pop song, a build-up of lustful tension that culminates in a chorus that begs to be screamed out loud. Every mirror-reflected synth and deep drive of bass hits the right spot. The stakes are high, and it feels like The Weeknd is on the precipice of spinning out of control.

‘Dawn FM’ is perhaps stunted by its guest features in the second half, but there is a satisfying narrative throughout exploring how past trauma and an uncertain future can create a crumbling present. With excellent narration from Jim Carrey, of course.

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