ALBUM RATING: 85
Dawn FM sees The Weeknd confront the hauntings of his past as he embarks upon a journey towards self-acceptance. With the concept unravelled through a radio station hosted by Jim Carrey, Abel’s beautifully crafted 5th studio album entices the listener into joining his pursuit of inner peace.
Sonically, Dawn FM extends upon the rich, synth-heavy, disco inspired After Hours, which sees Abel step even further into the 80s aesthetic he’s flirted with over the past few years. Where so many have failed trying to emulate this era of music, The Weeknd made it his own.
Opening in exquisite fashion with ‘Gasoline’, Abel’s nihilism, which sees him reference some classic REM, juxtaposes the lavish synths which is are extremely danceable despite the despondent nature of the lyrics. As has come to be expected with Abel’s more recent work, themes of vulnerability run right throughout the album, with the infectious ‘How Do I Make You Love Me?’ serving as a plead to be loved eternally. Closing out with the syncopated breathing which excellently transitions into the extended version of the albums’ lead single ‘Take My Breath’, Abel allows the instrumental to reach a climax, giving me a deeper appreciation for what I already believed to be a great track.
Abels’ ability to capture his feelings through music is what makes his art so special, a trait which is ever-present on Dawn FM. The atmosphere created by the layered synths on ‘Out of Time’ resembles a thin sheet of ice on a cold winters’ day, in which he skates across with his delicate vocal performance matching the coldness of his heart. Despite the prolific run up to this point, the album does lose momentum around ‘Here We Go’, with Tyler, The Creator’s underwhelming feature adding nothing to the track. This stagnation extends into the oversimplified ‘Best Friends’, which lyrically is the only track on the album I don’t care for.
But these underwhelming tracks do very little to hinder the excellence of the album, which continues on its expedition towards a new beginning as Abel sings “I don’t want to be a prisoner to who I used to be” on the atmoshperic ‘Is There Someone Else?’, who’s subtle yet haunting chipmunk sample is a great addition. By ‘Less Than Zero’, Abel has carried guilt and remorse to its climax, with the blissful heartbreak melody beautifully capturing the difficulties we face when ordered to let go of feelings we’ve held onto for so long.
Jim Carrey’s powerful spoken ‘Phantom Regret’ brings the experience to a close in spine-tingling fashion, completing the journey from the abyss towards a new beginning. The light at the end of the tunnel ensures Dawn FM is an album to cleanse your mind of all your regrets, emphasising the need for self-forgiveness in order to move on in life. This beautiful experience, enhanced by the immaculate synth production throughout, is such a great way to start 2022.
Favourite Tracks: Gasoline, How Do I Make You Love Me?, Take My Breath, Is There Someone Else?, Don’t Break My Heart, Less Than Zero