Album Review: Dawn FM (The Weeknd)

Review by: Sean Speidel

Artist: The Weeknd

Rating: 3.5/5

The Weeknd’s latest release, Dawn FM, is an all-around immersive experience reminiscent of the pop music of the 1980s.

Although he has been featured on several hit songs such as “Hurricane” by Kanye West and “One Right Now” by Post Malone, The Weeknd has not released an album since After Hours in March of 2020. The upbeat sound present on Dawn FM is a surprising contrast from his darker past works, but this album does not feel out of place within The Weeknd’s discography.

Dawn FM is a concept album presented as a radio station (103.5 Dawn FM) introducing the beginning of the afterlife. Actor Jim Carrey hosts the faux broadcast and his spoken word is the segue between tracks, bringing cohesion to the album.

If I had to use one word to describe the sound of the album, it would be smooth. The Weeknd expertly utilizes his soft yet capable voice to soothe the reader while also showing off his impressive range. Putting his vocals over extremely melodic synth beats was a genius decision as it gives the whole album an effortless flow. Dawn FM consistently gives off an energetic and groovy vibe that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Almost every track on Dawn FM has a perfectly executed transition to the next. The bridge from “How Do I Make You Love Me?” to the lead single “Take My Breath” is seamless, and the jingle from the station “103.5” Dawn FM between “Here We Go… Again” and “Best Friends” is a well timed interjection that reinforced the radio aspect of the album. The transition of each song to the next brings a sense of cohesion to the album that makes it so much more fun to listen to. These excellent transitions go along with the smooth sound of the album to make the album one homogeneous experience.

One fault I found in the album was that The Weeknd got away from the excellent storytelling and imagery presented in earlier songs like “Gasoline”, and the later tracks started to feel somewhat unoriginal. Songs like “Starry Eyes” strayed away from the upbeat feel that I loved from the previous tracks and went back to the dark and moody sound that the artist was known for, making this song feel safer by comparison. 

However, the album redeemed itself towards the end. “I Heard You’re Married” featuring rapper Lil Wayne and “Less Than Zero” brought back the upbeat sound that was offered in the first few tracks. Wayne’s feature offered a refreshing contrast to the rest of “I Heard You’re Married” while maintaining the energetic feel that makes you want to sing along. “Less Than Zero” was the perfect track to finish out the album. It maintained the energy that was re-established by “I Heard You’re Married” and excellently used the synth that was so prevalent throughout the album. The entire song had a fun, natural flow that felt like the dance party at the end of The Weeknd’s journey to the afterlife, bringing the album to a satisfying close. 

The Weeknd may have changed up his style, but Dawn FM’s 52 minutes of bliss left fans satisfied with the first major album of 2022.