Rolling out with another dance/pop concept record, Abel Tesfaye, more commonly known as The Weeknd, creates a vivid listening experience in a retro-pop album in purgatory, starring Jim Carrey. While Dawn FM does have quite a few highlights, it also contains some blander material.
To think The Weeknd, who had a kind of inconspicuous climb to the top of the music industry, would one day be spearheading a revolutionary Super Bowl halftime show and pushing his stage façades story that began back in 2011 during his Trilogy mixtape phase is somewhat surreal. His previous album, After Hours, encompassed everything that he was going for while perfecting his style of combining retro funk and modern pop almost seamlessly.
The highs of this album are quite high. Tracks like “Gasoline,” “How Do I Make You Love Me?” and “Take My Breath,” all in succession, are bright poppy dance tracks with the usual subjects of drugs, affairs, and love during life and are all listenable for hours on end, blending his styles perfectly. Jim Carrey, Tresfaye’s real-life neighbor, does an amazing job at playing a radio show host on this fictional 103.5 Dawn FM radio station, making fake commercials and narrating the journey from the opening track to the middle of other tracks to the end, while the Weeknd sings those memorable station jingles in between.
But unfortunately, some of the tracks just feel average. “Here We Go… Again” felt lackluster and repetitive. It recycled the same sound, and even with a feature from Tyler, the Creator, who really just spit a few bars and repeated “You gon’ sign this prenup” four times, I don’t think that it had the same quality as the first two or three tracks. The pop ballad “Out of Time” was slow and emotional, but it just feels like another breakup song where he feels like there’s no more time. It contains a metaphor of being out of time in purgatory where they’re about to reach death, but I think it’s more of a sign that Tesfaye needs his heart broken again to make some more Trilogy-esque music.
Other than a few average songs, the record is relatively consistent, and I do like the story and concepts that The Weeknd experimented with, so I’d give it a 7/10. It is definitely worth a listen and is definitely something to formulate your own opinion on, but in my opinion, it is very much below his previous records.