In 2020, the Weeknd released the best album of the year, and now he’s back with the follow-up: Dawn FM.
Before the album arrived, Abel dropped some hints about what would come after After Hours. First, in a May 2021 interview with Variety, he teased a connection between the two records, revealing, “If the last record is the After Hours of the night, then the Dawn is coming.”
Then, in a November 2021 interview with Billboard, he outlined the album’s conceptual theme. “Picture the album being like the listener is dead,” he said. “And they’re stuck in this purgatory state, which I always imagined would be like being stuck in traffic waiting to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. And while you’re stuck in traffic, they got a radio station playing in the car, with a radio host guiding you to the light and helping you transition to the other side. So it could feel celebratory, could feel bleak, however, you want to make it feel, but that’s what the Dawn is for me.”
As for the actual sound of the album, Abel dropped hints that it would be upbeat. He says he started writing it during the pandemic, and he had an urge to create something that sounded like the opposite of being stuck inside, telling Billboard, “I wanted to make music I thought sounded like going outside — I was obsessed with that feeling.” As the story goes, he had started writing music right after After Hours that sounded like it was too weighed down by depression, so he scrapped that material and got started on this.
Now that it’s arrived, does Dawn FM live up to the high expectations? What’s the best song? Biggest skip? Best and worst parts of the album? After giving it a couple initial spins, members of the Complex Music team—Eric Skelton, Jessica McKinney, and Waiss Aramesh—answered these questions and more. Here are our first impressions of the Weeknd’s new album.