It is still the dawn of 2022, but we already have the right soundtrack for it. The Weeknd delivered it to us in the form of a quiet storm radio playlist as we drive into the year through the depths of night. Perhaps a metaphor of the dark times we’ve gone through for the past two years, but the good news is Dawn FM is bringing us straight to the light.
The album is rooted in the 1980s sound that has quickly become associated with The Weeknd’s rise to Pop stardom ever since his massive 2015 album Beauty Behind the Madness. Less new wave-y than its predecessor After Hours, Dawn FM veers more into Quiet Storm, synth and Pop/funk tones.
After the intro, we’re escorted into the thumping beat and distorted voice of “Gasoline,” which harkens back to early Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. All through the euphoric singles “Take My Breath” and “Sacrifice,” the first part of the album is filled with uptempo numbers.
Then something shifts as we enter the Quiet Storm atmosphere of “Out of Time,” built on a sample of “Midnight Pretenders” by Aran and by far the closest he’s come to touching the Michael Jackson sound. “Is There Someone Else?” continues in the same midtempo spirit, but with a more modern edge to it.
The Weeknd enlisted Tyler, the Creator and Lil Wayne as guest stars on “Here We Go… Again” and “I Heard You’re Married” respectively (the latter is co-produced by Calvin Harris), which are both highlights. Then it ends with “Less than Zero,” which is a clear contender for the next single and “Phantom Regret by Jim” featuring Jim Carrey.
The spoken outro perfectly sums up the overarching theme of the album: to live life without regrets and be at peace with oneself is the key to reach the dawn, the light at the end of the darkness.
After the gloom of After Hours and its visuals, The Weeknd is giving us the key to end the journey on the other side. Truly a brilliant message of hope for the new year. May we all find the dawn on the horizon.