It’s a new dawn and a new day for The Weeknd and he’s feeling good—about the release of his new album Dawn FM. We knew this was coming, at last year’s Billboard Music Awards The Weeknd said “I’d like to thank god I don’t have to wear that red suit anymore,” referencing the bandaged red-suit wearing persona that defined his After Hours era. He continued saying “After Hours is done and the dawn is coming” and now the dawn has come. Before diving into the album it’s important to note The Weeknd is notoriously a huge fan of film, each album is more cinematic than the last.
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Let’s dive in, The Weeknd said he was struggling to write a follow-up to After Hours because he was plagued by depression, and the music he was making was too dark and sad. So he thought of an escape—purgatory. Much happier right? Dawn FM embodies the idea of purgatory as sitting in gridlock traffic with only the imaginary radio station 103.5 Dawn FM to listen to. The radio DJ narrating this experience is fellow Canadian Jim Carrey. You’ve definitely seen the Twitter thread between the two stars teasing Carrey’s feature on the album. Yes, The Mask was the first movie The Weeknd ever saw in theatres but the two stars also used to be neighbours in L.A. and would wave to each other through telescopes. Carrey quips and comments are meant to hold the listener’s hands through purgatory while The Weeknd drives away his demons over euro disco-type beats. Carrey’s chipper voice contrasts The Weeknd’s lyrics about his dysfunctional love life assuring listeners they’re a few songs away from the light in the distance. While we never know what persona The Weeknd will embody next, we can always count on toxic heartbreak sprinkled throughout the album and star-studded features.
If this is purgatory, then it must be the VIP section. Tyler, the Creator advocates the pros of a prenup on “Here We Go…Again” with background vocals from Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and Mike Love’s son, Christian. Lil Wayne contributes a verse on “I Heard Your Married,” Uncut Gems director Josh Safdie makes a cameo on “Every Angel Is Terrifying,” and Quincy Jones introspectively examines the effects of childhood trauma on “A Tale By Quincy”.
The album is full of ‘80s nostalgia that was present in After Hours with samples and harmonies, it’s a sonic experience that requires your full attention to be immersed and transported to the alternate universe of Dawn FM. Leaving you with some words of advice from Carrey “You gotta unwind your mind/Train your soul/And dance till you find that divine boogaloo.”