February 3, 2023

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Weeknd’s ‘Dawn FM’ Review: First Great Album Of 2022

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On ‘Dawn FM,’ The Weeknd and Jim Carrey host a dance party in purgatory. Let’s know the review about the one he’s framed as a kind of light at the end of our long pandemic tunnel.

The Weeknd, like many of us, spent part of 2020 in a pandemic depression.

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The first you know: “Take My Breath,” which dropped last summer as an advance single from the Canadian pop-soul auteur’s brand-new “Dawn FM” even as his previous LP’s smash “Blinding Lights” was still stubbornly installed on the Hot 100.

Plagued by feeling “in this limbo state,” he channelled 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” among them) and incited much Grammy Awards drama.

But the results were too dark, too sad and, he said, “emotionally detrimental.”

So the Canadian superstar officially known as Abel Tesfaye rebooted, turning his creativity to the idea of purgatory and being stuck in gridlock in a tunnel, a light beckoning at the end to signal the transition to the other side.

But before you think that concept sounds macabre, The Weeknd enlisted the ideal ambassador to ease the journey – a soft-rock radio host (voiced by new friend Jim Carrey in amusingly affected DJ mode) to keep you company while listening to “Dawn FM.”

Yes, it’s the name of The Weeknd’s new album – the first major arrival of 2022 – but also the faux radio station that will “guide you into the light … until you’re fully engulfed,” the singer said during a virtual listening event.

By the time Carrey returns for the closing soliloquy, “Phantom Regret By Jim,” a Dr Seuss-like rhyme that he wrote, the message is complete: “God knows life is chaos, but he made one thing true/You’ve gotta unwind your mind, train your soul to align and dance ‘til you find that divine boogaloo,” Carrey recites.

Weeknd’s ‘Dawn FM’ Official Audio:

Compare the cover of “Dawn FM,” in which the Weeknd is pictured in convincing old-age makeup, with the bandaged post-op plastic-surgery look he maintained throughout the “After Hours” era, and his point seems clear: Some problems can be solved through artificial intervention; some simply require the perspective afforded by maturity.

What sells this message is the Weeknd’s brilliant record-making, which he undertook here with a relatively small crew headed by Martin and Daniel Lopatin (a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never). The songs boogie and shimmer just so; the melodies ache with longing and regret.