The Weeknd - Dawn FM
Jan 7, 2022 (updated Jan 10, 2022)

Edit: alright, here’s the review:

While I may prefer After Hours just a little bit more, Dawn FM is the pop album I have always wanted from The Weeknd.

The Weeknd was the first artist whose music I fell in love with, and he is probably the most important artist to me and his music has been the soundtrack to so much of my life. I was 11 or 12 when I first heard The Weeknd, and at the time the only music I knew was from the radio or my parents. So diving into an artist’s music on my own for the first time was very exciting. I was also a pretty lonely kid who needed something to be obsessed with and look forward to, and his music was that thing for me. Beauty Behind The Madness was the first album I ever stayed up to listen to, (I pre-ordered it on iTunes and everything), and my first listen to Starboy is still one of favorite memories of listening to music. And as I became a fan, I went back and listened to the mixtapes and Kiss Land. And while I did like them, they were just so different from the pop music I had heard on the radio at the time that I didn’t fully appreciate them until years later. But as time went on, I fell in love with them, and House of Balloons is now my favorite Abel project and my second favorite album of all time. So no matter what he does, I will always listen and his music will always have a place in my heart, and it’s been so cool to see his career go the way it has, especially around the After Hours era.

As much as I do still love BBTM and Starboy, and as much as they hold a special place in my heart, After Hours is my favorite studio album from Abel since Kiss Land. It absolutely nailed the balance between the darker and moodier sounds of his earlier stuff with the more commercial and accessible pop sounds of BBTM and Starboy, and the era came along with an insane world and an iconic red-suited character. It was also really cool to see how popular and successful this era was, culminating in one of the biggest songs of all time and landing him the fucking Super Bowl.

So coming into this new era, I was ridiculously excited. I wasn’t expecting him to top After Hours, but I was excited to see what was in store. And when Take My Breath came out (especially the extended version), I was super excited that he doubled down on the success of his 80s sounding songs and hoped that the whole project did that. And with it finally here, it’s safe to say that he absolutely bodied this.

In my opinion, Dawn FM is one of the riskiest and most impressive things Abel has done, despite how poppy it is. When you’re at the level of success that The Weeknd is at, you could easily just phone in an easy and accessible album of radio-friendly pop hits and call it a day like an Ed Sheeran. But The Weeknd very obviously cares about creating a sonic universe as he calls it, and it really shows here. This is such a cohesive sounding album, which is only helped by the really cool and well-executed radio station/purgatory concept. Jim Carrey also bodies his appearances, and all of the little radio details thrown in, such as the jingles or the fake commercial, really help elevate the album experience as a whole.

Another thing that helps make this album super cohesive is how it sounds sonically. The production on here is pure 80s worship, and is in my opinion the best sounding production he’s ever been on. The production from Max Martin, Swedish House Mafia, and of course OPN is fantastic and is like actual synth porn. Dawn FM also has some of his best written and performed pop songs ever, as the hooks are catchy and the lyrics are the perfect balance of sounding light but actually being very bleak and dark, in classic Abel fashion. And I can’t forget about the fucking TRANSITIONS. I’m a sucker for some good transitions, and Dawn FM has so many great ones.

To go track by track, the opener “Dawn FM” has a really cool sounding passage at the beginning and starts the radio concept off with the Jim Carrey spoken word and the radio jingle. The next track “Gasoline” is one of my favorites on the album. I absolutely love the instrumental and the songwriting, I love the deeper and weirder vocals on the verses, and I love how they contrast with his vocals on the hook. “How Do I Make You Love Me?” has some of the best production on the album, and the song just sounds so big and epic and I love it. But by far the biggest and most insane moment on the album is the extended version (YES!) of “Take My Breath”, which already was one of his best written and produced pop song, but the extended version just adds so much and makes it one of the best things he’s ever done. “Sacrifice” is also one of the best pop songs that he has ever made, as the instrumental is so fucking groovy and the song is so catchy. Also, I absolutely love the pianos that come in and I’m glad they chose this as the next single. We then get an interlude with a story from fucking Quincy Jones, which is a good transitional moment that helps slow the album down for the next track “Out of Time”. I love this song as well, as it has a great city pop sample and some of his best vocals on the entire album. “Here We Go…Again” was my most anticipated track because of the Tyler feature, and while the song isn’t quite what I expected and the Tyler verse is a little bit underwhelming, I do still really like the song and always really like these kinda braggadocious-life-update songs from Abel. Then we get “Best Friends”, which is unfortunately my least favorite track here and one of my least favorite Abel songs ever. I still find it pretty decent (tells you how much I like his music that it’s one of my least favorites), but it just doesn’t work for me and I almost see it like I see the Post Malone collab, which also didn’t impress me. The album does pick up though with “Is There Someone Else?”, which is one of my favorite songs here and has a vocal sample that I could listen to for hours on repeat. The song itself is great too, and I really like the production and the hook, but that vocal sample is really the highlight. The song also transitions perfectly into “Starry Eyes”, which is another great moment on the record with beautiful synths and great lyrics. The next track “Every Angel Is Terrifying” functions as an interlude, but I fucking love it. The instrumental at the beginning is so good, and I love that the song transitions into some weird places, ultimately ending in a hilarious radio ad parody for Afterlife. Then we get “Don’t Break My Heart”, which isn’t the best song here, but it is another great moment. “I Heard You’re Married” could have gone wrong in many ways, and the Lil Wayne verse is definitely not his best, but I just love the song anyway and think it works. Then there’s “Less Than Zero”, which without exaggeration is in my Top 5 songs ever from The Weeknd. The instrumental is immaculate, the songwriting is perfect, and the song just sounds incredible. It will be a shame if this song isn’t released as a single. And then lastly, we get “Phanton Regret By Jim”, which is a great closer with a really interesting spoken word piece from Jim Carrey that reinforces the themes and ends the album nicely.

But while I am in love with this album as a whole, as of now I do have two issues that hold it back from being as good as After Hours for me. My first issue is that while I don’t hate the song Best Friends, it is one of my least favorite songs from The Weeknd and sounds really out of place to me. I don’t think it needed to be here, and it honestly feels like a Starboy leftover. My second issue is that while the features from Tyler, The Creator and Lil Wayne are fun and I like them, they also feel a little out of place and didn’t blow me away like I hoped. But these issues are relatively minor and don’t even begin to cancel out the other fantastic things about this album.

So yeah, another album from The Weeknd that I absolutely love. It’s really not surprising at this point, as I basically love everything he does, but I don’t care. I’m an Abel stan and proudly so.

Fav Tracks: Dawn FM, Gasoline, How Do I Make You Love Me?, Take My Breath, Sacrifice, Out Of Time, Here We Go…Again, Is There Someone Else?, Starry Eyes, Every Angel Is Terrifying, Don’t Break My Heart, I Heard You’re Married, Less Than Zero, Phantom Regret By Jim

Least Fav Tracks: Best Friends

Jan 7, 2022
This album has made me a fan of his. I know it's too soon, but this might be my favorite Weeknd album ever.
Jan 7, 2022
Jan 7, 2022
Jan 8, 2022
Shmeat rider for sure.
Jan 8, 2022
@ThaBaby proudly
Jan 9, 2022
Goated response.
Jan 10, 2022
I loved how your review is direct but also full of ambition and excitement. W as always.
Jan 10, 2022
Thanks! Appreciate it @uziiibey
Jan 10, 2022
Jan 11, 2022
Thanks so much man, means a lot! @SlimSavage
More Reviews by Case
The Weeknd - Sacrifice
Jan 10, 2022
The Weeknd - Take My Breath
Aug 6, 2021
The Weeknd - After Hours
Mar 20, 2020
The Weeknd - My Dear Melancholy,
Mar 19, 2020
The Weeknd - Starboy
Mar 19, 2020
The Weeknd - Kiss Land
Jan 4, 2022
The Weeknd - Trilogy
Jan 4, 2022
The Weeknd - Echoes of Silence
Jan 4, 2022
The Weeknd - Thursday
Dec 8, 2019
The Weeknd - House of Balloons
Jan 3, 2022
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