The Weeknd - “Dawn FM” Album Review

Story posted 5 days ago in Arts & Entertainment by Abigail Chachoute.

Ever since the Weeknd’s release of his album “Afterhours” and his striking Super Bowl performance in 2021, many fans concluded it was the end of the story for the man in the red suit as his death was confirmed in the music video “Until I Bleed Out”.

In a mortal sense, the XO crew was right, however, the narrative continues for his spiritual form as he embarks on his journey through purgatory as conveyed in Dawn FM.

Listening to this album is not as simple as finding a random track and calling it a #1 hit, this album is a concept that has been cleverly crafted by Abel Tesfaye and the rest of the creative forces who took part in the production of this album.

Even before dropping the album last Friday, The Weeknd caused a frenzy among his fans when he released the cover art for the album, which shows an aged version of himself, with a frightened look.

In this album, listeners take a stroll through the man in the red suit’s afterlife, as he reflects on his trauma and how it led to failure within his romantic relationships.

The combination of the electric keyboard and other music affects craft an out-of-this-world feel, similar to some sounds found in his album ‘“Starboy.”

There is no clear sequence to this album, but it does follow a relative timeline, with an ominous radio DJ (Jim Carey) guiding listeners between each track.

Tesfaye never fails to add a new twist to the stories he tells with each studio album, this one being particularly masterful with a radio-like structure, making it no wonder why several tracks are trending on the Spotify Global Top 50 chart.

After the chilling introduction track, the Weekend confronts himself and his old vices in “Gasoline”, burning his past self, separating his body and spirit, allowing him a way to travel into another dimension. Despite its main purpose being for the album, this track sits comfortably on the global chart at No. 20.

In the next couple of tracks, Tesfaye presents childhood trauma and its negative effects on his relationships. He does not share his own but gives the renowned record producer, Quincy Jones, the floor to share his.

Jones’ early-life story surely differs from The Weeknd, but the point that seems to be made is that trauma early in life comes in many forms, yet can have the same negative impacts in the future regardless.

With Tesfaye’s release of Dawn FM, his comparability and connection to pop prince Michael Jackson heightened. Not only are they now linked by the magic touch of Jones on their albums, but American music producer, Timbaland shared on Instagram live that this project is on the level of Jackson’s “Thriller”.

“Out of Time” is the soulful realization phase where he is telling him begging her to take him back explaining that he broke her heart because he needed time to work on his pain.

Considering this album is set in purgatory, it seems that this song may contain double meanings. Is it a reflection of the pain he caused his lover before the end of his life on earth? Or is it that she told him she moved on?

There is so much to unpack when it comes to his relationships leaving listeners wondering if he is referencing his on-again, off-again Bella Hadid, or his 10-month fleeting romance with Selena Gomez. Through speculation ties between some of these tracks and each relationship are a possibility.

In “Here We Go Again” Tesfaye references his biggest moments and recurrent successes in his rise to fame over the years, and refers to a certain “movie star” who was his “new girl”. 

Considering Gomez’s primary origins as an actress, might she be the “movie star” he speaks of? More convincingly, the next track is called “Best Friend”. In a 2017 interview with Billboard post-breakup, Gomez shared that the pair had “ended it (their relationship) as best friends.”

The lyrics in this track leaves room for wonder. Was The Weekend still seeing Gomez casually after their relationship was publicly announced to be over? Or was he talking about the beginning of their relationship?

Yet the next track creates another runaround. After their breakup, Gomez was immediately spotted with Justin Bieber, bringing on another Jelena saga. Question is, who was “Is There Someone Else?” inspired by? Gomez? Hadid? An unnamed subject?

Following his split from Gomez, Hadid and The Weeknd reunited and broke it off a couple of times. Months after their break, Hadid shared their busy schedules were to blame, and that the two were still friends. Was it that he had suspicions that her heart was no longer with him after they got back together? Maybe that was the driving force in their final breakup.

The final reflection “Less Than Zero” the Weeknd goes through expresses the reality of it all after rewatching his life.

“You tried your best with me, I know, I couldn't face you with my darkest truth of all.” He is coming to realize why the perception of him to his past lover has changed, after watching his resistance to her effort, and the pain he caused.

Carey’s recitation of the poem in “Phantom’s Regret” chillingly summarizes the journey the listeners witnessed, calling out The Weeknd’s memories along with his vices asking him, “Do you remember them well? Were you high or just stoned?”

In an album with such highly conceptual value, evaluated in its entirety, The Weeknd is surely a jock of many trades in the music world. Endless No.1 chart toppers, 138 awards, and 417 nominations. It can be quite accurately concluded that he will belong among the music legends as a Michael Jackson of our time.

Rating: 9/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Out of Time”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “Best Friends”

Abigail Chachoute is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact her, email axc6070@psu.edu.