The Buccaneer Reviews: ‘Dawn FM’

The album cover of Abel Tesfayes new project, Dawn FM


The album cover of Abel Tesfaye’s new project, ‘Dawn FM’

Jack Larson, Editor-in-Chief

Following up the commercial success of his 2020 LP After Hours, Abel Tesfaye, known by The Weeknd, keeps a similar 80s pop sound in his new album Dawn FM.

So far, Tesfaye’s project has been generally well-received, as Metacritic gave it a rating of 88/100, and Rolling Stone had the album at 4/5 stars.

However, the album has been controversial for some, as its low points, like Lil Wayne’s feature on I Heard You’re Married, has sparked negativity from many reviewers as some of his lyrics have been deemed as vulgar and immature. Besides the awkward feature from Lil Wayne, many listeners will find themselves skipping Tesfaye’s pointless interlude of Every Angel is Terrifying, which adds nothing besides extra time to the consumer’s listen through of the album.

The album starts off with a short introduction with the album’s title track, Dawn FM. It lays down the setting of the audience listening to a radio station hosted by Jim Carrey, as opposed to simply listening to a standard everyday album.

Using a voice changer to greatly deepen his voice, Tesfaye follows up the introduction with one of his most creative tracks yet, Gasoline. Being the first “real” song of the album, it starts off his fifth studio album strong, telling the story of a broken Tesfaye who has pretty much lost all hope.

He then moves onto the three track lineup of How Do I Make You Love Me?, Take My Breath, and Sacrifice, all following a story of The Weeknd falling in love with a girl, but then doubting himself and his abilities to keep her around. These tracks, which all are evidence of Daft Punk’s influence on Tesfaye’s music, all show his love for the dance and electronic genres of music, while still keeping a Michael Jackson sound on Sacrifice.

The first half of the album is an absolute delight for all R&B fans, as his sound in Out of Time and How Do I Make You Love Me? are classic rhythm and blues genre sounds that many average listeners would be able to appreciate.

The album has great momentum all the way up until Best Friends. Following up a calm track with a feature from Tyler, The Creator, the album loses it’s energy as past Here We Go Again… Tesfaye’s songs lose the unique and distinct sounds he had in the early half of the album.

In Best Friends, Tesfaye sings about how he wants to keep the same relationship in his life but rather to have it as a friendship rather than an intimate relationship. The lyrics and the song really aren’t bad, but the song is plainly forgettable and overshadowed by nearly every other track in Dawn FM.

As the second half has some low points one positive point would be Is There Someone Else? Being another classic R&B sounding track that Tesfaye has seemingly mastered, the song delivers a message of Abel having trust issues with a girl he loves. The beat and groove of the track mixed with the singers smooth vocals are really what makes it.

Unfortunately, the song has a continuous transition into another one of the low points, Starry Eyes, easily the most forgettable track on the album, with a hollow backing and a cliche message.

To follow up a guaranteed skip, Tesfaye comes up with… well… another skip. Every Angel Is Terrifying serves as another interlude which, for the first half, seems to have somewhat meaning to the story he is trying to convey. However, this is firmly proven wrong as at just about the halfway point of the song, the beat switches up to a radio advertisement for “Afterlife.” It is a disappointing subversion of expectations, and because of this the track adds absolutely nothing to the narrative, but only promotes the radio station ideal of the album.

Later on is I Heard You’re Married, an actual catchy song that one would find stuck in their head. However, the song has had mixed opinions from the public as Lil Wayne’s feature on the track has not been well received, as some of his lyrics are blatantly immature and laughable.

The Weeknd finishes off Dawn FM strongly with the final song of the album, (but only the second to last track,) Less Than Zero. Coming back full circle to Gasoline, Tesfaye portrays the same message of self doubt while being sentimental of what he once had, over a catchy synth, and guitar background with a similar feeling to his hit off After Hours, Save Your Tears. The song is for sure one of the higher points of the album, and has strong feelings of nostalgia.

The album finishes off with Phantom Regret by Jim, Jim Carrey’s three-minute long spoken-word track. Carrey communicates the idea that to achieve happiness, one must find it within themselves, a proposition that would make sense of The Weeknd’s pain throughout the story he tells. The spoken-word track was a neat way to end off the album, as Carrey’s delivery is spot on and the message fits well into the overall story of the album.

All around, The Weeknd’s Dawn FM was a strong follow-up to After Hours. It had its highs and its lows, but new songs like Sacrifice, Out of Time, and Less Than Zero, compensate for all the low points of the project.

The Buccaneer rates Dawn FM at 4/5 stars.