The Weeknd released his fifth studio album, Dawn FM, on Friday, January 7, and it’s an incredible listen. The record is an eclectic yet cohesive collection of slick, macabre dance pop—narrated, interestingly, by actor Jim Carrey.
Also interesting is the album’s cover. On it The Weeknd is wearing makeup and prosthetics that age him something like 40 years. His hair is gray, he has liver spots, and his skin is wrinkly and withered. See the look for yourself, below:
So what is the inspiration behind The Weeknd’s look? He hasn’t explained explicitly, but nuggets on the album give hints. Voice-overs from Carrey confirm much of this album is about death—seeing a light at the end of your time on earth and walking toward it. It’s possible that, with this album cover, The Weeknd is portraying himself at the end of his own life.
“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 / Scared? Don’t worry / We’ll be there to hold your hand and guide you through this painless transition,” Carrey says at the end of the album’s title track.
On another song, “Out of Time”—an apt title for this theme—Carrey says, “Because, like the song says, you are out of time / You’re almost there, but don’t panic / There’s still more music to come / Before you’re completely engulfed in the blissful embrace of that little light you see in the distance / Soon you’ll be healed, forgiven, and refreshed / Free from all trauma, pain, guilt, and shame.”
By the end of the album, on a track called “Phantom Regret by Jim,” the “light” is no longer in the distance. Life is coming to a close. “When you’re all out of time, there’s nothing but space / No hunting, no gathering, no nations, no race,” Carrey says. “And heaven is closer than those tears on your face. When the purple rain falls, we’re all bathed in its grace.”
The Weeknd is clearly thinking a lot about death and mortality on this record. That, naturally, comes with thinking about age. And the cover of Dawn FM reflects that.
Following his After Hours era, which saw The Weeknd wearing bloody bandages on his face to convey a message, it seems the artist has another concept album on his hands. One that’s very fun to dance to. Stream here.