The Weeknd, like many of us, spent part of 2020 in a pandemic depression.
Plagued by feeling “in this state of limbo,” he channeled his feelings into what he planned as his fifth studio album, the follow-up to 2020’s No. 1 “After Hours,” which sparked three polished No. 1 singles (“Save Your Tears ”and“ Blinding Lights ”between them) and sparked a lot of drama at the Grammy Awards.
But the results were too dark, too sad, and, he said, “emotionally damaging.”
So, the Canadian superstar officially known as Abel Tesfaye rebooted, turning his creativity to the idea of purgatory and being stuck in a traffic jam in a tunnel, a light calling at the end to signal the transition to the other side.
But before you think the concept sounds ghoulish, The Weeknd enlisted the ideal ambassador to ease the journey: a soft-rock radio host (voiced by his new friend Jim Carrey in hilarious DJ mode) to keep you company as you listen to “Dawn FM”. “
Yes, it is the name of The Weeknd’s new album, the first great arrival of 2022, but also the fake radio station that “will guide you into the light … until you are completely wrapped up,” said the singer during a music event. virtual listening.
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The title track features Carrey assuring listeners that “we’ll be there to hold their hand and guide them through this painless transition” before the Depeche Mode-style hits begin with “Gasoline.”
Taking listeners to a European nightclub, The Weeknd adopts a British accent to sing verses (“It’s 5 am, I’m high again and you can see I’m in pain”) before his familiar honeyed voice rushes into the chorus ( “And if I finally die in peace, wrap my body in these sheets”). It’s the end of the world as The Weeknd knows it, and he even names REM for further confirmation.
Most of the 16 tracks on “Dawn FM” are outfitted with glowing synths that demonstrate The Weeknd’s continuing affection for new wave and lite-R & B, as well as his instinct for melody.
Combined with well-placed features (Lil Wayne and Tyler, The Creator), interludes by Carrey and Quincy Jones, and smart radio bumpers for Dawn FM sandwiched between songs, “Dawn FM” is an all-night dance party of a album with a pulse that belies its lyrical depth.
Shades of the sliding rhythm of color from Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin ‘Somethin'” “How Do I Make You Love Me?”, While The Weeknd and Swedish House Mafia co-authors hook a funky guitar loop from the track Alicia Myers’ 1982 R&B “I Want to Thank You” to anchor “Sacrifice,” featuring layered vocals and a delightful tonality shift.
Working primarily with production magicians Max Martin and Daniel Lopatin (aka OPN), The Weeknd embraces the realities of death while navigating the complexities of intimacy.
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When Carrey returns for the closing soliloquy, “Phantom Regret By Jim,” a rhyme similar to the Dr. Seuss’ he wrote, the message is complete: “God knows life is chaos, but he did one thing true / You have to relax your mind, train your soul to align and dance until you find that divine boogaloo ”, recites Carrey.
But before reaching the philosophical climax, here are some other highlights along the journey:
‘Less than zero’
The undisputed apex of “Dawn FM”, also splattered with Martin’s fingerprints, is propelled by a propelling beat and decorated with notes from the keyboard that go up the scales before The Weeknd erupts in a chorus that literally reports, “I can’t get it out of my head. ” Of course, the reference is to a romance riddled with self-destruction (“Now you’d rather leave me / Than watch me die in your arms”), but the phenomenal hook is an instant gem.
‘Out of time’
After “A Tale By Quincy,” an interview clip by legendary music producer Quincy Jones that tells the story of the childhood trauma of seeing their mother being carried away in a straitjacket and its effect on their relationships throughout of their life, “Out of Time” delves into The Weeknd’s own emotional problems. “I’ve been so cold to those who love me,” he sings over a glittering tune reminiscent of DeBarge with its smooth, retro beat.
‘Do not break my heart’
Though packed with lines from memory (“Don’t let me down” and “I don’t know if I can take it anymore” comprise most of the chorus), The Weeknd’s quirky phrasing infuses even the most elementary lines with depth. The song opens with a blast of roller skating rink, neon-lit energy, and builds its hubris on layers of synths.
‘Here we go again’
Bitter at being used for fame and sex, but also intrigued by the potential for something real to unfold from an affair (“When I make her laugh, I swear it heals my depressing thoughts”), The Weeknd struggles to fall in love with someone who knows will break. your heart. Enter Tyler, The Creator, with a warning verse: “You signed this prenup.” Through his tangle of emotions, The Weeknd’s top range is in pure and flawless form, as he dances to the background voices of the Beach Boys Bruce Johnston and Christian Love (Mike’s son). No, we didn’t see it coming either.