Jean Dawson Curates a Classic for the Digital Era
Jean Dawson embodies what it means to be an artist in the digital era. The 24-year-old innovator isn’t afraid to play with genre, treating each influence as a tool for constructing his world.
On Pixel Bath, Dawson experiments with 90’s grunge, 2000’s indie guitar riffs, screamable pop-punk energy, hip-hop drum breaks, and transcendent electronic keys to create an unbelievably unique look at his own hyperactive imagination. And that’s just on the A-side.
Right from the jump, Pixel Bath sounds like running full speed into a mosh pit. On “Devilish,” Dawson confronts masculinity and crooked authoritarian perspectives, challenging them with a desire to imagine a future that veers away from these traditional power structures.
Dawson recruits A$AP Rocky on “Triple Double,” adding another layer of complexity as the two relish their artistic prowess over striking guitar chords.
Dawson continues to challenge authority on “Policia,” a bilingual track released earlier this year at the height of the social justice protests throughout the country. Dawson sings about the effects of police brutality throughout the track, culminating with the chorus “F*ck every single police / Dicen que me quieren muerto / Pero nunca tengo miedo.”
The fast-paced rock energy on “Pegasus” transitions with a bone-chilling beat switch into a filtered and reverbed hip-hop outro. This sort of unnatural cohesion is in full effect on “06 Burst,” as Dawson incorporates more sporadic elements of controlled chaos. “Watch your mouth when you speak to me / I’m the new black history,” he raps over an industrial Yeezus-type groove.
The project comes to an apocalyptic conclusion on “Pyrotechnics,” as Dawson channels Frank Ocean-esque vocals to paint a surreal picture of “Watching Earth explode.” This intimate meditation heightens the beauty and complexity of these visions of hope and decay seen throughout the project. Dawson isn’t afraid of what comes next as the future becomes the present, and a robotic text-to-speech tool recites:
“It’s all beautiful. Hell on Earth. Heaven in mind / Diamonds become sand. The sun explodes / It’s all beautiful. It is all beautiful. Pixel Bath.”
With an unmarked level of musical experimentation, Jean Dawson truly offers something for everyone on Pixel Bath. Dawson achieves a level of unprecedented sonic versatility with purposeful lyrics that shine through to achieve true unbound creativity. Pixel Bath is a new-age classic for the digital era and one of the most impressive and cohesive projects of 2020.
Dom Maiorca is a writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from UCLA where he studied Psychology and Film & TV while contributing frequently to The Paper Mixtape, an independent student-run magazine. He loves talking about music and movies and is always looking for new recommendations for both. Some of his favorite artists include Childish Gambino, Toro y Moi, Tyler, the Creator, KAYTRANADA, Gorillaz, and many more.