Jean Dawson is an artist who refuses to sit under one label. Ignoring typical genre tropes and concocting unique sounds to create a world unlike anything else, Jean Dawson is easily one of the most exciting artists around right now. Following the success of sophomore LP ‘Pixel Bath’ in 2020, Dawson has returned with his highly-anticipated third record – ‘CHAOS NOW*’.
‘CHAOS NOW*’ is a shapeshifting creation, blasting through acoustic balladry, hip-hop elements and frantic distorted guitars. ‘GLORY*’ is a song ready for arenas. The reverb-soaked drums matched by the heavy guitars, along with Dawson’s searing vocals, immediately stands out as a highlight in his entire discography. ‘BAD FRUIT*’, featuring alternative hip-hop heavyweight Earl Sweatshirt, is a softer number on the album. The sombre guitar work, painted against orchestral passages and twinkling percussion creates a cinematic dimension to the track, a nod to Dawson’s love of visual content. Single ‘PIRATE RADIO*’ closes out the album, a beautiful acoustic moment spurred on by delicate guitars and folk-tinted strings and wind sections. Isaiah Rashad also pops up on ‘KIDS EAT PILLS*’, delivering a smooth second verse, a moment of breath between the bouncier sections on the track.
‘THREE HEADS*’ and ‘PORN ACTING*’ are two of the heaviest moments on the album. Huge guitars and some spine-tingling screaming from Dawson, the tracks are both the perfect blend of noise and grit with melody. Like on ‘Pixel Bath’, Dawson meshes all forms of music into a cohesive package, and never loses melody or, most importantly, identity. Everything on this record is authentically Jean; he’ll never change for no one.
‘CHAOS NOW*’ is simply redefining what a ‘guitar album’ can be. Fuzzy riffs over trap-tinted beats, 80s chicken scratch guitar, blistering power-chord choruses, picked acoustic… it’s all here. Never once is Jean Dawson restricted by any instruments or styles. Instead he crafts a nostalgic, and sometimes aggressive, world, matched beautifully by the well-thought-out visuals. It took everything that made ‘Pixel Bath’ so incredible and just elevates it.
Words: James Mellen