December 7, 2023


Arts Eternal

5 takeaways from the Weeknd’s new album, Dawn FM

Almost two decades soon after placing out Just after Hrs, a report that marked the starting of the pandemic for several, the Weeknd is back with his fifth studio album, Dawn FM.

It is really been a busy number of several years for the Weeknd (born Abel Tesfaye). Soon after Hrs dominated 2020, turning out to be the fourth ideal-promoting album of the 12 months. Its direct single, “Blinding Lights,” spent 86 months on the Billboard Incredibly hot 100 charts, generating it the major Billboard Scorching 100 track of all time. 

In addition to that, the Toronto R&B star also headlined the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show, collaborated with everybody from Rosalía to Publish Malone, and publicly declared a boycott of the Grammy Awards following “Blinding Lights” and Immediately after Hours obtained zero nominations. (Although Tesfaye didn’t post any of his very own audio to the 2022 Grammys, he continue to nabbed three nominations for his contributions to albums by Doja Cat and Kanye West.)

Experienced the pandemic eased up sufficient to allow for big stadium excursions again, Tesfaye would’ve been on the road marketing After Several hours. But due to ongoing limits all over the world, Tesfaye admitted to Rolling Stone in September 2020 that he “may possibly have an additional album all set by the time this quarantine is in excess of.” That album turned into Dawn FM. “If the previous history is the After Hours of the night time, then The Dawn is coming,” he teased in May 2021, during an job interview with Selection.

With its launch just times into the new yr, Dawn FM is Tesfaye’s effort to lengthen his winning streak, maybe all the way till the quarantines are genuinely about. The album’s 16 tracks expand on the sonic palette of brooding synths, funk-impressed riffs and obvious nods to Michael Jackson, an idol Tesfaye has paid homage to for several years.

Underneath, CBC New music breaks down some of the biggest takeaways from the Weeknd’s most up-to-date release.  

A extended record of specific guests

The Weeknd is no stranger to collaboration, most just lately capping off 2021 with guest appearances on FKA Twigs’ “Tears in the Club” and “Poison,” a posthumous Aaliyah keep track of. On Dawn FM, Tesfaye invited an eclectic record of musicians: Quincy Jones, Tyler, the Creator, Oneohtrix Issue By no means and Lil Wayne. While Tesfaye hasn’t labored with Tyler, the Creator ahead of, the pop/R&B singer shares histories with numerous of his other company. 

In 2013, Tesfaye appeared on “I am Fantastic,” the opening observe on Lil Wayne’s Dedication 5 mixtape. This was two years immediately after Lil Wayne’s protegé, Drake, invited a then emerging Weeknd to execute at Toronto’s OVO Fest, marking one particular of the Weeknd’s 1st stay performances at any time.

Digital producer Oneohtrix Place Never’s name seems on Dawn FM the most, owning worked on 12 of its 16 tracks. OPN (actual title Daniel Lopatin) scored the Safdie Brothers’ 2019 movie Uncut Gems, where Tesfaye made his acting debut enjoying a 2012 edition of himself. The next calendar year, the two artists teamed up all over again when OPN remixed “Preserve Your Tears” for the Weeknd’s Right after Hours remix EP, and the Weeknd provided vocals for OPN’s single “No Nightmares.”  

And just past year, Tesfaye received the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award at the initial yearly New music in Motion Awards hosted by the Black Tunes Action Coalition. In his acceptance speech, the Toronto singer shared the story of the 1st time he achieved Jones, and how that moment stayed with him. He added that Jones was “the explanation why I do this.” 

Other artists and producers who served co-write or create tunes on Dawn FM incorporate Calvin Harris, Swedish Residence Mafia, Max Martin and Quebec-born producer DaHeala. 

Another Uncut Gems Easter egg 

Although Oneohtrix Place Never’s name is all more than the credits of Dawn FM, he is not the only Uncut Gems affiliate to surface on the album. The film’s co-director, Josh Safdie, performs a character named Arthur Fleminger, a voice that appears on the track “Each and every Angel is Terrifying.” 


Introducing the voice of Dawn FM: Jim Carrey 

Canadian actor Jim Carrey is featured all over the album, serving as narrator in the design and style of a late-evening radio DJ from yesteryear. He first seems on the opening and title track: “You are now listening to 103.5 Dawn FM,” he says, soothingly. “You’ve got been in the dim for way too prolonged, it’s time to walk into the gentle and accept your fate with open up arms. Fearful? Never stress. We are going to be there to hold your hand and tutorial you through this painless transition. But what’s the rush? Just relax and appreciate one more hour of industrial-totally free-by yourself songs on 103.5 Dawn FM.” at?v=w8eFZoOcYKc

In a 2021 GQ interview, Tesfaye revealed that he experienced designed a friendship with the fellow Canadian. He and Carrey experienced been exchanging textual content messages, and Carrey even amazed the R&B star on his 30th birthday (which took place just ahead of the pandemic hit) by having him out to breakfast. “He lived actually like two buildings down from me,” he told the magazine. “He had a telescope and I had a telescope. He was like, ‘Where do you are living? What ground do you live on?’ I was like, Blah, blah, blah. And we looked out the home windows on our telescopes and we could see every single other.” 

Narrator isn’t really the only role Carrey plays on the album: it concludes in a hugely first manner with “Phantom Regret by Jim,” a spoken-phrase observe that finds Carrey channelling yet another Canadian bard, Leonard Cohen, with hushed shipping and evocative, rhyming verse. An electric powered piano and synthesizer create a mood evocative of Prince, who’s basically referenced in the line, “When the purple rain falls, we are all bathed in its grace.” The keep track of concludes with a summarizing motto which is foodstuff for imagined: “You have obtained to be heaven to see heaven.” 

When Dawn FM was introduced previously this week, Carrey took to Twitter to specific his admiration for Tesfaye: “I listened to Dawn FM with my very good close friend Abel @theweeknd very last evening. It was deep and classy and it danced me around the home. I’m thrilled to enjoy a part in his symphony.”  

The Weeknd is at odds with himself all over again

The Weeknd utilizes narration and interludes from the two Carrey and Jones to established a thematic tone as the album progresses. Via Jones, the listener learns that this is a journey into confronting how early trauma and dysfunction impact our associations later in lifetime, while Carrey poses metaphysical and existential thoughts on the aforementioned remaining monitor, “Phantom Regret by Jim.” “How a lot of grudges did you choose to your grave/ when you weren’t appreciated or adopted, how did you behave?” he asks, St. Peter-like, analyzing life’s ledger at the pearly gates. “Was it frequently a dissonant chord you had been strumming/ ended up you at any time in tune with the track lifetime was buzzing?”

You can find a hopefulness to this document but it really is mired in uncertainty. Whilst the chance of redemption and modify are at any time-present, Tesfaye seems as well at odds with himself to grasp them. From tune to track he flips from wanting to rectify his past transgressions to just succumbing to the man he is experimented with so hard not to be.

On “Best Mates,” he sings about a romantic relationship that cannot be, referencing earlier harmful appreciate and not seeking to repeat old behavior: “Oh, I never want to be responsible/ for your coronary heart if we tumble/ ’cause I will get clumsy and tear it apart.” On “Is There A person Else,” he admits he isn’t going to think he deserves someone loyal to him but he is operating on it: “I really don’t want to bе a prisoner to who I utilised to be/ I swear I altered my strategies for the far better, the better/ ’cause I wanna be with you without end, permanently.” But by the penultimate track, “Much less Than Zero,” he seems solved that he simply cannot alter: “I will constantly be fewer than zero/ you tried your ideal with me, I know/ I couldn’t confront you with my darkest fact of all.” Throughout his lots of eras, from Residence of Balloons to Dawn FM, the Weeknd’s one particular dominant topic has normally been the conflict inside of himself.

But his musical inspirations keep evolving 

For an artist who 1st appeared with a entirely formed, brooding R&B seem, Tesfaye has broken out of that mould in recent decades and located achievement in embracing a small little bit of anything, from ’80s funk to modern day-day EDM. Dawn FM boasts a wide range of sonic experimentations, and the Weeknd’s more electronic tendencies are introduced to daily life thanks to architects like Oneohtrix Level Under no circumstances and Swedish Home Mafia, perfectly exemplified on a track like “How Do I Make You Appreciate Me?”

In other places, pop hitmaker Max Martin will take guitars and synths and transforms them into disco-inflected bangers these as the album’s lone solitary, “Take my Breath.” The rhythm guitars resemble a mix of ’80s funk and Daft Punk on “Sacrifice,” which is built atop a sample of Alicia Myers’ 1981 track “I Want to Thank You.” And on “Much less Than Zero,” a tender acoustic guitar opens a new-wave lane that we’ve in no way viewed the Toronto singer check out in advance of, a exceptional second of sonic levity (it can be also a single of two tracks on this whole album that is in a important key).

But it would not be a Weeknd album if Michael Jackson’s impact was not current, and it can be most palpable in the singer’s efficiency on the shimmering “Out of Time,” a observe that uses a sample of “Midnight Pretenders” by Japanese artists Tomoko Aran and Tetsuro Hamada, but which also employs harmonies that recall the get the job done of the Jacksons.