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by Jean Dawson

Released October 7, 2022 via P+

Reviewed October 18, 2022

Top tracks (based on community voting)
BAD FRUIT* (64%), PORN ACTING* (40%), SICK OF IT* (32%)

Jean Dawson’s Pixel Bath presented an explosion of energy and a potent mixture of indie pop, hip-hop and indie rock sounds. CHAOS NOW* presents a similar output, but slightly darker than the colorful and shimmery sounds of his 2020 release. More rock-oriented than his previous work, Dawson has a rap-like cadence at many points, but he’s more frequently found screaming or layering his vocals for a more melodic sound. Similarly, elements of hip-hop pop up in the production—mostly in the percussion—but CHAOS NOW* is just as informed by the sounds of ‘90s alt-rock and 2010s indie folk. Guitars propel much of the record forward, whether that be the heavily distorted kind heard on “THREE HEADS*” and “PORN ACTING*” (among others) or the acoustic stylings of “BAD FRUIT*” and “PIRATE RADIO*.” Honing in on the rebellious and angsty aspects of his personality, we see Dawson emerging triumphant in spite of the negative forces around and within him. Isolation, self-doubt, and the use of drugs as escapism are recurrent themes of his songwriting; and while they may hinder his personal life and well-being, it certainly hasn’t held him back from becoming a star. CHAOS NOW* is one step closer to that becoming the case. – Dominick (8/10)

While his self-proclaimed debut Pixel Bath blended a comfortable range of styles, opening up relatively unexplored fusions of punk-ish rap with glitch, CHAOS NOW* refines Jean Dawson’s sonic palette with middling results. There are some genuinely thrilling guitar-driven moments, like the build of folktronica closer “PIRATE RADIO*,” the straightforward yet sharp speed of “SICK OF IT*,” or the whining chords against tumbling toms and Jean’s gravelly exclamations at the end of “HUH*.” However, much of what Dawson does here dangerously treads the grounds of indie’s most commercial faces, ignoring the paths of recent underground provocateurs, or most importantly, his own. In “BAD FRUIT*,” which has a lyrically real but hardly raw verse from a timbrally exploratory Earl Sweatshirt, Dawson opts for millennial whoops, over-produced string swells and pop-acoustic strums, which together are so dated that it drains any immersive emotive power he might’ve been aiming for. Single ‘THREE HEADS*’ was dynamically interesting, teasing glitch to pad out certain lines, but instrumentally reads as a moment in an alternate timeline where Bring Me The Horizon and Twenty One Pilots are, respectfully, realistically, and respectively, the furthest and closest from each of their primary sonic philosophies. Either way, CHAOS NOW* is steeped in a pandering to edgy teens that Pixel Bath was mostly indifferent toward, romanticising the covert prestige of drug consumption, being “fucked up”, or supposed rebellion, damaging anything seriously potent. Even during the highest moments, Jean wears his influences on his sleeve, right down to the fingers; a radical mindset considering the riveting creativity of his prior LP. – Cam (6.8/10)

DeVán: 8/10 | Dominick: 8/10 | Hadley: 8/10 | Pax: 8/10 | Cam: 6.8/10 | Alan: 6.5/10


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