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Review: I'm not turning the dial on 'Dawn FM'

It’s time to step into the light and tune in to the Weeknd’s 'Dawn FM'

KatrinaEmmert_AnalisaValdez_113

The Weeknd’s “Dawn FM” combines ’80s synth and modern pop to generate a unique cinematic experience. Illustration originally published Friday, Jan. 14, 2022.


While "After Hours" is still breaking records after nearly two years since its release, "Dawn FM," The Weeknd’s fifth studio album released Jan. 7, is the continuation of the series of heartbreak albums released in the 2021.

If getting a divorce was the authentic Adele experience and having your favorite scarf stolen by an ex was the revolution from Taylor Swift’s re-recording of "Red," devoting your heart to a parasitic relationship while feeling a little jazzed would be what the raw feeling of "Dawn FM" is equivalent to experiencing.

Setting the stage with the fictional radio station 103.5 Dawn FM, the album features songs that combine the lyrical masterpiece of an '80s love ballad with the modern funk-pop beats of club music from the '00s.

The Canadian singer-songwriter produced an album so good that it’s bound to have fans forgiving him for canceling his "After Hours" tour. With a sound reminiscent of an electro-synth Marvin Gaye album, The Weeknd takes bold risks in mashing musical genres in a revolutionary way.

Its rhythm rings in a brand new era, and we’ve been in the dark way too long. It’s time to step into the light and tune in to the Weeknd’s "Dawn FM." 

In the song "How Do I Make You Love Me?" The Weeknd grants fans an insight to his inner struggle between "seeking approval, begging for it desperately," yet recognizing the object of his affection isn’t phased by his existence. He's pining over a dead-end road.

We’ve all been there. We don’t talk about it.

In a near-seamless transition between "How Do I Make You Love Me" and "Take My Breath," you can get lost in just how artistically this album was crafted.

Introducing the earlier released single from the album, "Take My Breath" slides in with rapid breaths that turn into the head-bobbing guitar beats of the fourth track. 

It scratched an itch in my brain I didn’t realize existed; the tension The Weeknd built up through the entirety of "Dawn FM" burst so effortlessly as the chords played on.

Whatever ruthless emotions The Weeknd invoked with the 16 tracks on this meticulously crafted album, he undoubtedly injected a drug into every chord, beat, lyric and melody.

Somehow, the same album with lyrics that viciously tore me apart could also remedy my ripped heartstrings through its soothing sounds.

A prime example of this is the seventh track on the album, "Out of Time." How did this man write the lyrics “you begged me with your drowning eyes to stay,” and “I'll love you like I shoulda loved you all the time” while implying that we’re Out. Of. Time. and expect us to be OK after that? 

"Out of Time," followed by the abrupt radio message that flows so gently into "Here We Go… Again," once again reminds me that Abel Makkonen Tesfaye is not a real human being. 

Reminiscent of "Save Your Tears" from his fourth studio album, "Less Than Zero" delivers a staple track that makes me feel like I’m in a dream I never want to wake up from. 

Reminiscent of his fourth studio album "Save Your Tears," "Less Than Zero" delivers The Weeknd’s staple track that makes me feel like I’m in a dream I never want to wake up from. 

To end the euphoric trip that was the entirety of "Dawn FM," The Weeknd ends this masterpiece with a Dr. Seuss-esque piece voiced by Jim Carrey.

Something about hearing Carrey ask “was it often a dissonant chord you were strumming? Were you ever in tune with the song life was humming?” was not only a prompt kick to the stomach, but it was also a glorious end and ode to the rest of the album.

I never thought I’d be brought to tears by the same voice as Horton from the 2008 masterpiece "Horton Hears a Who" telling me that "your phantom regret hasn't let it go yet," and that "all specters are haunted by their own lack of trust," but here we are.

It’s always hard to put into words how music makes you feel; it’s why sounds were made to be so expressive. However, I’m a firm believer that every pore of the album is filled to the brim with so much emotion that it’s hard not to mirror the feeling of being an open nerve.

"Dawn FM" has earned its place as one of my all-time favorite albums. Not just because of the way The Weeknd mashes genres in a way that should be criminal, but also because of his lyrical portrayal of the complexity in relationships.

The Weeknd's songs explore the wicked romantic fallouts, the toxicity of forbidden attraction, and the gritty, poisonous addiction of love. For that I have to commend him.

I part this review with the last words of the album, "May peace be with you," because I can tell you with concrete certainty that the last thing this album made me feel was peace.

Listen with enjoyment.


Reach the columnist at amvald11@asu.edu and follow @anxieteandbread on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Analisa ValdezEcho Reporter

Analisa has been a State Press reporter since her freshman year at ASU. She's a journalism major that has written pieces for several desks including Community & Culture, Opinion, and now Echo. Lisa is not involved in any professional program because she'd prefer to keep her sanity intact by the time graduation rolls around. 


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