The cover art for “Dawn FM” shows The Weeknd dressed as an elderly man. The black background represents how The Weeknd has been in the dark and looks toward the light. Photo courtesy of XO and Republic Records
The previous album featured big hit singles, including “Blinding Lights,” “Save Your Tears” and “In Your Eyes,” in which he experimented with the synth-pop genre in all three. “Dawn FM” now highlights the singer fully embracing that sound, as most of the tracks use the synthesizer as the main instrument.
The Weeknd designed the album to have a radio station theme. The intro, “Dawn FM,” represents the beginning of a top of the hour broadcast. The Weeknd sings a tune to prepare the audience for what’s to come, and then Jim Carrey comes in to play the role of the radio host.
“You are now listening to 103.5 Dawn FM,” Carrey narrates. “Just relax and enjoy another hour of commercial free yourself music.”
The intro then closes with The Weeknd singing the theme song, “103.5 Dawn FM.”
The station then begins the first full song, “Gasoline,” where The Weeknd taps into his lower register voice as he sings about how much he relies on his lover.
“I’ve fallen into emptiness / I want you cause we’re both insane,” The Weeknd sings. “Oh, baby, please, just hold me close / Make me believe there’s more to live.”
“Take My Breath” is the disco lead single of “Dawn FM” that dropped Aug. 6. The Weeknd put the extended version of the song on the album as opposed to the original three minute one.
The next song is the newest single “Sacrifice,” and its beat and instrumentation are reminiscent of singer Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The music video, released on the same day, shows The Weeknd being strapped to a huge circular apparatus by a group of black-cloaked figures.
Next, is a minute and a half commercial break narrated by Quincy Jones, which transitions into the next song, “Out of Time.” “Out of Time” goes away from the album’s synth-pop sound and dives into more R&B. The Weeknd showcases a lot more of his vocal range as he sings about a missed opportunity for love.
“Say that I love you, girl, but I’m out of time,” The Weeknd belts out. “Said I’m too late to make you mine, out of time.”
The album also has two featured artists. Tyler, The Creator is featured on the song “Here We Go…Again” and Lil Wayne on “I Heard You’re Married” — a song that The Weeknd reveals a fling he had with a married woman.
The ninth track, “Best Friends,” is lyrically contrasting to the song sonically. The Weeknd tells an unfortunate story about a romantic relationship that ended up not working out, but he sings it over a synth club beat to dance to.
The twelfth track “Every Angel is Terrifying” stands as another commercial break before returning to the music with “Don’t Break My Heart.” “Don’t Break My Heart” is an ’80s synth club song with trap elements in which The Weeknd expresses his new fragility to getting his heart broken again.
“Don’t break my heart / I’m falling apart already,” The Weeknd sings. “Don’t you break my heart / I don’t know if I can take it anymore.”
Before the final narration from Carrey, “Phantom Regret by Jim” to close the hour, the last song is “Less Than Zero.” “Less Than Zero” is reminiscent of both “Save Your Tears” and “Circles” by rapper Post Malone. The guitar, synth melody and BPM creates the nostalgia as The Weeknd sings about his feelings after a former lover abandoned him.
“I can’t get it out of my head / No, I can’t shake this feeling that crawls in my bed,” The Weeknd sings in the chorus. “I try to hide it, but I know you know me / I try to fight it, but I’d rather be free.”
As a whole, the radio station themed album shows The Weeknd fully embracing the synth-pop genre after giving us a taste of it on his previous project. “Dawn FM” is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music.
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