Review Summary: (More) 80s nostalgia meets Truman Show fever dreamAfter Hours
was always going to be a tough follow-up. As well as being a chart monster, it managed the more impressive feat of largely uniting his diverse and bickering fanbase. The return of Illangelo resurrected the ghost of Trilogy on the one hand; on the other Abel's devout MJ worship stepped up still from Starboy
, while he captured attention personally with his provocative videos and crimson red jackets, and finally robbed the charts blind. It had something for nearly everyone. On all fronts After Hours
was a massive success, and his greatest major-label release.
Not two years later and The Weeknd's follow-up is thrust upon us with but a week's notice. While Abel has aged considerably, Dawn FM
very much has the feel of a sequel to After Hours
: bold red giving way to heavy blue, the same eye for the camera with tongue firmly in cheek, and everything held together with a fantastic effort in production that blends and expands the various sounds Abel is thus known for. It is, once again, a reinvention while not a revolution, but the involvement of Oneohtrix Point Never really stands out and elevates the record. The beats are lush, groovy, and hypnotic in that way techno is, and as a whole the record flows better than any other Weeknd record since Echoes of Silence
. The Jim Carrey skits are the icing on the cake and really sell the vibe in this regard. Dawn FM
is rich. It can feel like a dream sequence through an uncanny world, but it is also a great dance and pop album, and probably the best driving record you'll hear all year.
So is it better than After Hours
? Let's not exaggerate. If we are comparing hit-potential, Dawn FM
probably comes in a little lighter, and doesn't quite hit the same highs as frequently. I was never a particularly big fan of The Weeknd's disco/80s inclinations either, and this album certainly veers in that direction a touch more than After Hours
. In many ways it works to the record's benefit though, as its glossy world dazzles and seduces, achieving an impressive balancing act between Grammy-bait and woozy pop experimentalism. More than any Weeknd album since Trilogy, Dawn FM
deserves to be listened to in full. Truthfully, comparisons to previous successes may prove a bit of a disservice to what is a worthy and fresh addition to The Weeknd's evergrowing discography.