With the release of The Weeknd’s new album ‘Dawn FM’ there was an inevitable rush to judgement on its reception by the masses who have bought into the Synthwave movement if you can call it that.
In the hot pink corner, we have the dyed in the wool purists who believe that any encroachment into the scene by arguably one of biggest Artists of recent times serve as a reminder that big business will always win out and any Artists who are vying to be heard in the genre will dissolve into the back ground when they’re significantly challenged by the might & money of the sharks that patrol our neon waters.
In the cyan corner we have the fans who revel in the thoughts that someone as big as 'The Weeknd' would give the genre such an incredible boost. There's a hope that it'll jolt anyone without any real knowledge of Synthwave and a penchant for curiosity down the rabbit hole where they'll experience an inviting neon world that's been here for years!
In whatever format it may arise whether that be an intro to a show, a retro typeface with vector art on a flyer for an experience, or The Weeknd himself it all serves to solidify the fact that when marketed correctly Synthwave and it’s now varied brain fog inducing amount of sub genres of which some are a reach let’s be honest has caught on and there’s something seemingly gratifying for those of us who’ve been around for a decade or longer revelling in these 21st century 80’s sounds.
It’ll be remiss of me not to mention the debacle surrounding ‘Take My Breath’ and the uncanny resemblance at its breakdown and arguably the most exciting part of the track where it essentially ‘borrows’ notes from Make Up and Vanity Set’s ‘The Last City’. I hope MUAVS got some payback because let’s face it if that happened to you as an artist it’s going to sting that no amount of salve will sooth unless you see your bank account do the large Las Vegas payment shuffle with that one-armed bandit flex.
Whichever corner you happen to linger in you cannot deny the value of DAWN FM’s production, nor can you take it away from the man to hold true to himself in delivering an ultimately viable listening experience, have you been in the dark way too long? Perhaps we all have…now open the shades and let the dawn in!
The premise of the entire album is enveloped around listening to a Retro-Synth pop station! Think GTA V if I can be so bold as to draw that comparison. In fact, in hindsight, it’s kind of conceptual. In interviews The Weeknd has said that that “that the album plays like listening to a kind of adult contemporary radio station as you sit in a traffic jam in the tunnel, only the tunnel is purgatory and the light at the end of the tunnel is death”. Cheery!
Pop’s Anti-Hero Abel Tesfaye delivers his euphoric 80’s disco drip with a side of nihilism and absolutely no one that I know of at least makes a death drive sound so enticing. All this plus it’s also interspersed by an elated Radio DJ voiced by his neighbour in real life Jim Carrey and satirical advertisements on promoting the afterlife.
Make no mistake about it, this album is unlike anything you’ve ever heard or likely to hear again. It’s his 5th full length studio release and also features guest appearances by Lil Wayne, Tyler the creator as well as contributions from Quincy Jones of which the latter was no doubt a dream for Abel considering his vocal stylings and the fact that he was/is a huge fan of Michael Jackson.
DAWN FM has also drawn comparisons to ‘Thriller’ from a few notably Timbaland who coped a little heat due to the reference. Is he right though?
Draw from the Album what you will, but let’s face it, it’ll no doubt be talked about for some time to come!