The pop star’s new album, Dawn FM, comes out Friday and features his persona from ‘After Hours’ taken hostage by a cult.
As long as you might want the hedonistic night to go on, eventually the cold, harsh light of dawn comes for you — that is, according to The Weeknd. The pop superstar has released released a trailer teasing his new album, Dawn FM, a follow-up to his smash 2020 record After Hours.
“You have been listening to 103.5 Dawn FM. You’ve been in the dark for way too long. It’s time to walk into the light and accept your fate with open arms,” a radio host, that may or may not be the voice of Jim Carrey, narrates at the end of the one-minute trailer. The upcoming work, slated for released on January 7, appears to be linked to the character and world of his previous album, with The Weeknd, a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye, donning the same look and amber-tinted sunglasses. This time though, he’s clad in black (gone, ostensibly, is the previous era’s red suit) and apparently taken hostage and dragged into a mysterious cult-like underworld.
There’s a car crash, a gaggle of hooded figures, possible supernatural exorcism, a mysterious woman in red, and most intriguing, an elderly, white-haired version of The Weeknd panicking throughout. The trailer also teased features from an eclectic mix of guests: Carrey, Quincy Jones, Lil Wayne, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Tyler, the Creator. The snippet of music that closes the teaser maintains the retro, new-wave pop sound from After Hours that pushed him to even greater heights of superstardom (in November, “Blinding Lights” became Billboard’s greatest Hot 100 song of all time, based on calculations of its chart-topping metrics).
The continuation of the sound is parallel to the new album’s apparent extension of the After Hours universe. “If the last record is the after hours of the night, then the dawn is coming,” Tesfaye said cryptically in an interview last May. In November, he revealed more about what to expect from the new record, including its theme of a radio host narrator:
“Picture the album being like the listener is dead,” he told Billboard. “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.”
Leave it to The Weekend, whose entire discography has always toggled between hedonistic pleasure and self-loathing, to see being dead as something both celebratory and bleak. Regardless, this upcoming version of purgatory will likely have great music.