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Albums Of The Week: The Weeknd | Dawn FM

An intriguing and irresistible concept piece about the afterlife, Abel Tesfaye's fifth studio release is damn near flawless. Not that you needed me to tell you that.


You don’t need me to tell you about this album.

You’ve read the press releases. Seen the album cover. Perused the track list. Watched the videos. And even if you haven’t, you already know you’re going to be hearing these songs every time you look at a screen or plug in your earbuds for the next several months. It’s going to top charts. Win awards (OK, maybe not Grammys). Dominate the entire freaking cultural landscape. Be described and debated and deciphered ad nauseam. There’s nothing I (or anybody else) can tell you about this album that you don’t already know or won’t know soon. Except maybe this: It’s good. Better than good. Actually, it’s damn near flawless. As we all know, that isn’t always true of these overhyped, massively commercial superstar releases. But it surely is this time.

Dawn FM makes it abundantly clear that The Weeknd / Abel Tesfaye is at the top of his game. The tracks are sleek and stylish while feeling instantly familiar. A lot of them have an ’80s vibe. A few could give vintage Michael Jackson a run for the money. There’s a nice balance between upbeat dance fare and downtempo ballads. Every melody is an earworm. Every vocal is supple and seductive. Nearly every song is a single. The lyrics feel a little more mature and emotionally accessible than his previous hedonistic efforts. The whole album plays like some sort of loose concept album about life and death and rebirth (maybe that has something to do with the old-man cover art — or maybe not), though it also works as something of a post-pandemic metaphor. Even the oddball touches and guest spots — including a harrowing monologue from Quincy Jones and Jim Carrey popping up now and then as the DJ / pitchman / angel of the titular afterlife radio station — are novel and interesting. So bottom line: There are way worse albums you could be forced to listen to for the next six months to a year.

Of course, you don’t need me to tell you that either.