REVIEW: Tune into “Dawn FM” during the end of the world

The apocalyptic and revealing fifth studio album creates a familiar sound garden while changing its tone.


Photo courtesy by XO Republic

Kizzy Azcarate, Entertainment Editor

Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, kicks off a new music cycle with his fifth studio album “Dawn FM.” With familiar collaborators like Max Martin and Oscar Holter, The Weeknd also commissions the help of Swedish House Mafia members Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello, along with Calvin Harris, and Jim Carrey as radio host of the purgatory radio station.

“Dawn FM” is set up to make the listener feel like they are riding shotgun down scarce roads with the end of the world looming behind them. Each song can represent one mile and each mile equates to a revelation and liberty The Weeknd has accepted while the end of the world nears.

A follow-up to “After Hours,” The Weeknd creates another concept album formulated with ‘80s influences and sizzling synths.

His track two, “Gasoline,” has vocal similarities to Robert Smith, lead singer of “The Cure.” Vocally, this is one of the rare times we hear The Weeknd sing out of his usual falsetto, crooner voice. While he has a deeper tone during the verses, he returns to his signature tone in the chorus.

Fans of The Weeknd will find similar themes in “Dawn FM” that are visible in “After Hours” and “Beauty Behind The Madness” which is his inability to allow himself to make amends in his relationships while nursing a drug dependency.

Like “After Hours,” The Weeknd could be heard struggling with the continuation or disintegration of a previous relationship throughout the album. While “After Hours” captured the conflict of whether to stay or leave the relationship, “Dawn FM” is the acceptance of the relationship having an open-door policy.

In “Sacrifice”, currently the highest streamed track on Spotify, Tesfaye’s conflictions of the relationship is most evident. Lyrics like “I don’t wanna sacrifice / For your love, I try” make it clear that the love they have for one another isn’t worth staying in this abyss that they created. The song continues with him singing that he still has a life to live.

When comparing “Gasoline” and “Sacrifice” the lyrics show how Tesfaye relied on his partner to not allow him to overdose or harm himself and later writes about a life after that relationship, no matter how comforting and familiar it is.

All of The Weeknd’s projects have revolved around two things: his codependency on his relationships and drugs while struggling with anxiety and depression. “Dawn FM” is no different, but the audiences who listen are more likely to relate more than ever.

Coming up on the two year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, the heightened agitation and bleakness of the state of the world feels hopeless and oppressively constant, making “Dawn FM” more relatable.

Narrated by his neighbor and actor-comedian Jim Carrey, “Phantom Regret By Jim” changes the course of the entire album, allowing for “Dawn FM” to stand alone to its predecessors. While people may not have had the time for reflection before, the final track requests the listener to look back at “how many grudges” they hold, regret that keeps them from salvation, and how insignificant their existence may be.

Kizzy Azcarate is the Entertainment Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, tweet her @Kizzy_kinz or [email protected]