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Dawn FM Review

Canadian pop/r&b singing sensation and superstar, The Weeknd, dropped his fifth studio album, Dawn FM last week. I am personally a huge fan of his and think he is great, so it's safe to say I was very excited for this release so early into 2022. Coming off of the scorching hot After Hours era that dominated 2020 and well into 2021 expectations were very high. And with Abel announcing this and After Hours to be a part of a new trilogy, it only adds fuel to his fire. With the first major drop of 2022, in a year that is already looking stacked, will Abel put himself in a top position early into the year?

The title track, Dawn FM is a powerful and haunting introduction to the album. It does a good job of establishing the radio station concept that The Weeknd utilizes, but also alludes to death, which is a theme that is ever-present in the radio skits of the album. It is rare to hear Abel singing in a deep, down-pitched voice and on the first song of the album, Gasoline he does just that, and I loved every second of it. Hearing him sing like this is just a testament to his unparalleled vocal range, especially when he bursts out singing the soulful and enchanting chorus. Gasoline is an upbeat and danceable track where The Weeknd is singing about the emptiness he feels and his loss of faith in the world, which is a striking contrast from the sound of the track, but it makes Gasoline that much better. On the following How Do I Make You Love Me? it becomes apparent that he is sticking with the 80's synth pop sound that he revolutionized on After Hours, and is improving upon it with more intricate instrumentals and moody atmospheres. Yet again we get a urprising side of Abel where he sings about wanting to make himself more desirable for this woman he is interested in.

Take My Breath was the only single released from Dawn FM, and I loved it, but unfortunately the album cut is different than the single version. For a fairly shallow track Take My Breath has no business being five and a half minutes. The Weeknd's singing on the chorus is great but all of the instrumental breaks between singing just make the track drag on, despite its attempts at world building. The instrumental of Sacrifice is given life through the aggressive guitar chords, and The Weeknd's haunting vocals fit extremely well over them. The whole song is an energetic bop with one of the most infectious choruses on the album, which is quite frankly some of the best singing Abel has ever done. The way he uses his vocal range on this track contributes heavily to the fun and entrancing energy that exudes from this song. Quincy Jones tells the story of his mother, and discusses how growing up without a mother significantly impacted his life and relationships in the chilling interlude, A Tale By Quincy.

The transition from A Tale By Quincy into Out Of Time is beautiful, and the song itself is one of the most catchy and enjoyable on the record. The instrumental is magical and enchanting, with The Weeknd's high pitched singing over it being incredible. The chorus is infectious, and the cadence he uses will get stuck in your head every time. He is singing about wanting to find out where he stands with this woman he's interested in, and Jim Carey's radio skit is entertaining, keeping with the themes of impending death. Here We Go...Again reminds me of Snowchild with The Weeknd rapping in a high pitch voice about his new girlfriend that he says is like a movie star, and is seemingly very much in love with her. The instrumental is moody and atmospheric, and over it Abel sings about this relationship he is pursuing, recognizing that it could end up being toxic, but that he's ready for it. Tyler's verse on this song isn't super impactful but it fits well on the record.

On Best Friends The Weeknd, acknowledges that his relationship with this woman is escalating. He sings about how she no longer wants to have sex as friends anymore. Abel realizes his relationship with this woman is special to him, but is also aware of his toxic tendicies that could possibly complicate this relationship. On Is There Someone Else? The Weeknd is feeling the love with this woman but also reflecting on his past. The Weeknd's singing is great, with the highlight of lyrics being him thinking she's lying to him, based on her demeanor. He just wants this woman to be open with him but also feels the pain he's put people through being in this position. All of these topics are tackled over a haunting, but synth-heavy instrumental. Starry Eyes features more minimalist production where The Weeknd's vocals take the forefront of the track. He sings about his feelings for the woman and how he believes he's changed, but the track is pretty boring and uneventful. It serves a good purpose of showing where Abel is at emotionally but could've been done without as a whole. Every Angel Is Terrifying serves as an interesting interlude that isn't the greatest but is produced excellently. Despite it seeming lackluster compared to the other interludes it serves as an important segway into the climax of the album.

Don't Break My Heart is one of the moodier cuts on the album with some more deep voice The Weeknd that is super fulfilling, especially when he starts hitting high notes immediately after. He is worried about his relationship with this woman and does not want to end up hurt. This leads us into I Heard Your Married which is the emotional climax of the album. Here we have The Weeknd finding himself the victim of lying and being a side piece to his love that is apparently a married woman. He struggles emotionally with wanting this woman to leave his husband for him, but then realizing he wouldn't trust her enough as she's proven to be deceitful. Him letting her go and recognizing he can't be with her is a huge sign of growth for Abel but he also is emotionally in pain. Lil Wayne's verse is great and sums up The Weeknd's emotional confusion very well with a smooth flow. Less Than Zero is one of the most incredible outro songs I have ever heard. What one the surface sounds like an upbeat pop song is really just The Weeknd admitting defeat. Over some moody string and fast paced drums Abel is unable to find peace in the situation. This song also features one of the catchiest choruses I have ever heard. Phantom Regret By Jim is a spoken word outro from Jim Carey where he reflects on The Weeknd's journey, questions the value of life, and wraps up the album nicely.

Dawn FM is filled with great energy and catchy choruses. The 80's synth pop influence is heavy and though it doesn't vary too much it doesn't get old either. This album features some of the best vocal performances from Abel, with his vocal range constantly being highlighted. When he delivers low-pitched choruses it matches the mood of the album perfectly. It is nice to see The Weeknd attempt a relationship and fail within the narrative, and shows us a new side of him. Dawn FM is held back by the second half which is weaker, but still has several highlights, including the emotional climax of the record.

Final Rating:


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