Jean Dawson, the San Diego-born experimental singer and rapper, released his new album, “CHAOS NOW*” on Friday.
The album comes two years after ‘Pixel Bath,’ Dawson’s 2020 LP which features standout tracks – such as ‘Power Freaks’ and ‘Triple Double’ featuring A$AP Rocky.
Dawson — who grew up in Tijuana, Mexico — rose to fame, in part, for his ability to create seemingly genreless music. He mixes punk, rap, pop and even folk in his songs. The darker undertones of his songs often go well with the instrumentals he chooses. “CHAOS NOW*” is no different.
After a short intro, one of the previously released singles titled “THREE HEADS*” kicks off the album. Over a catchy guitar riff, Dawson uses a mix of soft melodies and demanding vocals to sum up the sound theme for the rest of the album.
Similar to most of the tracks on the project, Dawson talks a lot about negative thoughts, low self-esteem, and the art of being crazy. Although he tends to create sonically intense music, Dawson’s lyrics are often vulnerable and full of monologues about his mental state.
The theme continues in “GLORY*,” another guitar and drum track with infectious, strong vocals from Dawson. However, the sound slows down a bit in “KIDS EAT PILLS*”. Dawson executes the first half of the track well, but the climax comes when Isaiah Rashad raps over a minimalist guitar instrument, describing his drug use and mental well-being.
“POSITIVE ONE NEGATIVE ONE*” is one of the weakest tracks on the project. Although the instrumental is appealing with a mix of guitar-focused and acoustic sections, Dawson fails to captivate elsewhere.
The previous song could easily be forgotten, but Dawson follows up with an incredibly moving track: “BAD FRUIT*” featuring Earl Sweatshirt. The beautiful guitar loop sets the stage perfectly for Dawson’s soothing vocals. After a hymn interlude, Earl Sweatshirt follows Dawson’s impressive performance with one of his revelations, focusing on his drug use and battles with depression.
“0-HEROES*” picks up the pace of the album, showing Dawson in control throughout the track creating a confident vocal performance on an equally confident instrument.
The next track, “SCREW FACE*”, is a sonic roller coaster. With heavy, alternative rock influences and hip-hop inspired vocals, Dawson shows off his versatile style.
Dawson’s February 2022 single, “PORN ACTING*”, next appears on the album. This track fits perfectly with the project, as its aggressive sound and infectious vocals make it one of the most complete tracks on the project.
“BLACK MICHAEL JACKSON*” begins with an average performance from Dawson, but picks up in the second half as the track slows down and allows Dawson to smoothly pick up the pace with his melodic vocals.
The next track, “HUH*,” is rap-centric and features seldom-heard, self-assured lyrics by Dawson. He closes the track in a big way: singing on a growing guitar instrument, which seems to lead perfectly into the next track.
“SICK OF IT*,” another single from the project, is a near-perfect track. Dawson brings an abundance of energy to the song, as his eclectic vocals blend easily with the sporadic instrumental.
The album’s final track, “PIRATE RADIO*”, is Dawson’s most soulful and moving track to date. This track draws heavily from folk music and features angelic vocals throughout. The emotion this track brings out is heavy and inspiring, ending the project with more vulnerability than it started out with.
“CHAOS NOW*” is an impressive release from Dawson. His ability to float between genres and specific sounds showcases his talents well. However, his versatility can sometimes cause hiccups on the album, as the scattered sound can bounce around too quickly for listeners. Either way, Dawson created his own sound and showed an immense level of creativity, curiosity, and maturity on “CHAOS NOW.”