Albums of the Month


“Dawn FM” by The Weeknd

By: Waleeja Chaudhry

Rating: 8.5/10 

The Weeknd’s fifth studio album, “Dawn FM”, is a synth-pop, ’80s new wave-inspired album that is futuristic yet timeless. The album is conceptualized like a fictional radio station named 103.5 Dawn FM, threaded with commercials and fillers narrated by Jim Carrey. 

“Dawn FM” plays like an 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. The narrative construction is matched by a similar music progression throughout the albumboth equally cohesive and well worked. On the second track, “Gasoline”, Tesfaye sings in a disarming British accent about setting himself on fire: “It’s 5 a.m./I’m nihilist/I know there’s nothing after this”, setting the tone for the rest of the album. 

The album is conveyed as a single unit with seamless transitions and atmospheric sounds. Tesfaye executive produced the album alongside pop powerhouse Max Martin, experimental electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never, Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, and Oscar Holter. This group helped make “Dawn FM” a dynamic and energetic album with discotheque pop and 80’s R&B shimmered all over. 

The theme of annihilation and destruction comes up several times, whether it be towards him or his subject, just like the rest of his discography. He debates boundaries with a lover on “Sacrifice”, moving from devotion and defiance; “When you cry and say you miss me, I lie and tell you that I’ll never leave”, he truthfully explains. 

The best moments on the album include “Out of Time”, “Starry Eyes”, “Less Than Zero”, and “Is There Someone Else?”. All of these songs are well planned and are set to be part of some larger ideology. Fans of his infamous 2012 “Trilogy” compilation theorize that Dawn FM is the second mixtape of a newer trilogy, which sets high hopes for the next and last album. Overall, “Dawn FM” is a well-articulated album that further demonstrates The Weeknd’s musical talent and inclination to experiment with his work. •


“LIVE LIFE FAST” by Roddy Ricch

By: Zach Isaacs

Rating: 6/10 

Roddy Ricch, one of hip-hop’s brightest stars, just released his highly anticipated sophomore album “LIVE LIFE FAST”. However, it fell grossly short of expectations. 

The 18-track album has hits that are few and far between, but the real problem is that it lacks lyrical substance and doesn’t really make you want to keep listening. After the hugely successful debut album, “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial”, the bar was set high for Roddy, and this album just doesn’t come close. 

Songs like “thailand”, “hibachi”, and “late at night” offer brief highs to the album, but weak appearances from heavy hitters like “Fivio Foreign” and “Takeoff”, along with weak writing and uninspiring production makes the 51-minute listen difficult. 

With Roddy proclaiming the album had a “no skip policy” on Twitter days before the release, the nostalgia of past projects excited Roddy Ricch fans like myself. What we ended up getting was a lack of experimentation, the single aspect of Roddy’s style that made him so appealing in the first place. 

The tasteful soul samples, mix of singing and rapping isn’t seen in this project like many had hoped. The drop in quality is even seen in the first week sales, selling 62,000 in the first week, dropping significantly from the 101,000 sold in the first week of his first album. With all of the public criticism, Roddy announced that he will be releasing “Feed Tha Streets III” this year, the would-be third installment of his famous mixtape series. 

Only time will tell how “LIVE LIFE FAST” will age and Roddy’s reputation from future projects. However, Roddy will have to step his game up between now and his next project to keep his spot as one of the most popular rappers in the industry. •


“Brightside” by The Lumineers

By: Adler Amolsch

Rating: 7.5/10

Two-time grammy-nominated band The Lumineers recently released their new album “Brightside” on January 14. Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz balance deep ballads with light-hearted lyrics to create a memorable experience, yet the album stays very true to the band’s style and lacks critical texture.

In contrast to the sunny name, “Brightside” was born out of pain. The album consists of nine tracks, intending to share the common trauma society is experiencing due to the pandemic. In songs like “Brightside” and “Reprise”, the lyrics attempt to convey this universal feeling of despair yet also depict how hope can still emerge from the dark.

“Where We Are”, unmistakably one of the strongest songs of the album, tells the story of the life-threatening car wreck Shultz and his wife got into. The anthem communicates Shultz’s appreciation for being alive, resembling feelings of the pandemic. The song’s use of soft piano and heavy drums also builds a sense of optimism and perseverance during such unprecedented times.
“Rollercoaster”, one of the more peaceful and melancholy tracks, takes listeners on an emotional rollercoaster, as the name conveys. Lines like “everyone was only dyin’ to live” touch hearts with such true words during the COVID era.  

While the album’s storytelling is on point, the repetitiveness makes “Brightside” feel somewhat predictable and uninteresting. The Lumineers are known for their classic piano and acoustic guitar pair, but it’s starting to feel a little overused. To see The Lumineers step outside of their comfort zone and produce something fresh would be fascinating.

Overall, “Brightside” stirs a sense of hope within listeners as Shultz and Fraites deliver such poetic lyric compositions. Despite lacking variety in their music, I would definitely recommend a listen if you are chasing those cry-along tunes!