Album Review: The Weeknd – Dawn FM

By Venus Rittenberg, Editorial Director

[XO/Republic Records; 2022]

Rating: 7/10

Key Tracks: “Gasoline”, “How Do I Make You Love Me?”, “I Heard You’re Married”

Dawn FM sees The Weeknd continuing in the same stylings as his previous effort, After Hours, albeit with less success. Dawn FM isn’t bad, but it does have some noticeable flaws that differentiate it from its predecessor. Still, the album illustrates that Tesfaye is an incredibly talented musician, something that has been clear since House of Balloons.

The first major flaw of Dawn FM is the concept of the album. Having a concept is not a bad thing at all, many concept albums are brilliant and some of the best albums of all time. However, the concept of this album, that one is listening to a radio station playing these songs, ultimately contributes nothing to the album, leaving the listener wondering why it was included at all. There are a handful of tracks on this album that feature radio jingles, stories, and the like, and while they’re interesting, do they really add anything to the album? Would it be a significantly different album without them? No. The concept is interesting, but it is not committed enough to change the sound of the album.

The Weeknd does deliver hits though, and the first song is perhaps the best example of this. “Gasoline” sees Tesfaye utilizing vocal effects that work brilliantly. The song sounds so fresh and unique, especially within the context of his discography, that it immediately demands attention. The lyrics on this track are great too. The repetition of “it’s 5 a.m.” and the various thoughts and feelings he experiences at this time capture the unique feeling of sadness that accompanies those early morning hours.

The next few songs just kind of slip by. They’re fun and enjoyable, but nothing stands out too much, and due to the nature of the album, all the songs flow together, and sometimes it’s hard to pick out the individual tracks. The most defined moments on the album after the unique opener are the two features, one by Tyler, the Creator, and one by Lil Wayne. Tyler’s verse honestly isn’t anything too special, but as always it’s nice to hear his voice. Wayne, however, delivers an amazing verse on my other favorite song from the album, “I Heard You’re Married.” Wayne is pretty reliable features-wise, and his verse is pure fun.

Ultimately, there are no truly bad songs on Dawn FM. It is at worst forgettable, and at the very least, fun. While it fails to reach the same highs as After Hours, it is without a doubt an enjoyable album — something you can always count on The Weeknd to deliver.

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