Review: The Weeknd Trades Pessimistic Nightmare for Hopeful Daydream on His New Album ‘Dawn FM’

by Student Submission

The Weeknd’s new album Dawn FM builds on the colorful melodies and brooding themes from his previous works to establish a distinctive new chapter in his career.

The award-winning Canadian musician has without a doubt found the formula for making hit records.

According to Billboard, Dawn FM is currently the sixteenth most popular album of the week.

High school student Andrew Suntjens says he has been a fan of The Weeknd for around three years.

He says the album has been growing on him since its release last month even though the tracks sometimes blend a little too much.

“They sort of sound the same, especially with those transitions,” he added.

The Weeknd’s previous work After Hours established dark and eerie moods filling the listener’s ears with the uneasiness and uncertainty that often accompanies late nights.

The new album replaces these slow-building eerie beats with punchy pop backing tracks allowing him to explore a newfound sense of optimism.

This sense of optimism is shared throughout the album, but elements of darkness remain present.

The Weeknd interjects 80s sounds, beats and themes to a vocal style similar to what is heard on his 2016 album Starboy.

These elements work to make the album coherent.

Where After Hours feels exhausted, Dawn FM feels refreshed.

The introduction immediately transports the listener to an astral location using echoes, techno-sounding effects and synesthetic production styles. 

The narration brings the listener back to a sense of reality before the first song “Gasoline” combines the two concepts to begin the experience.

Actor Jim Carrey narrates throughout the album as if it is a radio show.

Suntjens says for him this narration worked to help reinforce the themes of the album.

“He has a good radio voice. With the concept of [the album] being in between life and death, he did a really good job, especially on that outro “Phantom Pain”,” he said.

College student Kennedy Sax says she’s been a fan for a few years and started paying closer attention to the artist after his Super Bowl Halftime performance.

She feels the narration got in the way of the music.

“Stuff like that isn’t my favourite thing because I just like to listen to music. I don’t hate it, but I didn’t love it.”

The album subscribes to the ideology that less is more when it comes to features.

Only two artists aside from The Weeknd share a verse on the project: Tyler the Creator and Lil Wayne.

Sax feels the narration did make this small list of features feel acceptable.

“I think it was fine to only have two [features], especially with the number of songs but I think if there wasn’t any talking, then you could have had at least one or maybe two more.”

The delivery style of the narration works effectively to ensure the album is taken seriously but still presents itself as somewhat lighthearted.

Meanwhile, the narration manages to keep the album from blending excessively and the style of narration is reminiscent of Morgan Freeman’s work on Savage Mode II.

The album is sure to set musical trends alongside hit albums like Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia.

Between trendy sounds and elements of nostalgia, it has something for everyone and is sure to be looked back on as a staple of early 20s music. The Weeknd has noted that the album is part of a trilogy meaning more music should be on the way.

Written by Chase Chambers, Lethbridge College

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