The Weeknd works to move forward, in retro style, on ‘Dawn FM’ | Arts & Culture


The brief intro is full of peaceful violins, chirping birds, suspenseful 1980s synth and The Weeknd’s smooth vocals singing “this part I do alone” to establish the album’s self-reflective journey. Next, Jim Carrey welcomes you to The Weeknd’s fifth studio album, “Dawn FM.”

“You’re now listening to 103.5 Dawn FM,” Carrey said through a radio-to-voice filter. He added that too much time has been spent in the dark since The Weeknd struggled with personal trauma and mental health. “It’s time to step into the light,” Carrey said.

The whole intro of the opening track of the album, especially the line about entering “the light”, tells us the main idea of ​​the album. The Weeknd – otherwise known as Abel Makkonen Tesfaye – reflects on the growth of toxic behaviors in love and relationships. In this sense, the Canadian artist tries to escape the darkness to face his traumas and to reach peace with himself.

As the title of the album and the first song, “Dawn FM”, Tesfaye conceived the album as a radio show with Carrey as the host. In all of his parts, Carrey speaks directly to Tesfaye as he supports and encourages the artist to continue working to come out of his traumatic past. The album is accompanied by spoken monologues by Carrey, as well as another in the middle of the album on the song “Out of Time”.

‘Out of Time’, the album’s seventh track, comes straight from the 1980s – one of the heartbreaking pop songs of the decade. Funky pop-style bass stands out on the ear, with wind sounds echoing over a smooth synthesizer and upbeat half-time drums holding all the pieces together. Tesfaye’s silky vocals agonize over the relationship he’s lost forever as a result of his own actions, singing “I love you, girl,” adding retro harmonies with “but I don’t have time anymore.” .

At the end of the song, Carrey tells Tesfaye, “Don’t you dare touch that dial, for as the song says, you’ve run out of time,” – telling Tesfaye to move on is the only way he’ll can move forward. Carrey goes on to say that Tesfaye will heal from his trauma and pain soon enough, but “there’s still music to come” before that happens.

The end of the monologue serves as a transition for the rest of the album, as Carrey states that there will be “30 minutes of easy listening to some slow tunes on 103.5 Dawn FM”, continuing the concept of the radio show. The next song, “Here We Go…Again,” can be heard playing quietly in the background as a radio transition. As promised, the next songs following “Out of Time” have a smooth feel, contrasting with the energetic dance beats of the first half of the album.

The soothing synths of “Here We Go…Again” recall the music of the iconic 1980s film “The Labyrinth,” directed by Jim Henson with a soundtrack by David Bowie. Retro synthesizer sound appears in one form or another on every song on the album, from the 1980s techno video game riffs of second track “Gasoline” to the dark, ominous synth of “Every Angel is Terrifying” near the end. from the album.

Throughout “Dawn FM”, The Weeknd masterfully mixes the synthesizer sounds of old pop music with a modern hip-hop twist and spoken word poetry. In the song “A Tale by Quincy”, producer Quincy Jones – winner of 28 Grammy Awards – makes an appearance to tell a story about the influence a difficult upbringing can have on romantic relationships in adulthood.

Due to the structure of the album, with the concept of a radio show and the themes carefully crafted into the album, it’s not the one you want to play in shuffle mode; the album is best experienced when listened to from beginning to end. Tesfaye takes the listener with him on a journey through his struggles to deal with deeply rooted personal issues, seeing the toll that healing – and lack thereof – takes on his relationships.

The Weeknd kicked off 2022 with a new masterpiece worth listening to for fans of 1980s pop, R&B and synthesizer music.


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