Earlier this year I heard Jean Dawson's bop “90’s Green Screen" and since then, I have been genuinely infatuated with any and all music that has been put out by the creative genius. All year long, I’ve been teased with a new, bolder sounding Dawson. Singles like “Bruiseboy,” “Clear Bones,” and my personal favorite, “Starface*” have steadily kept me satiated, but also left me curious. Did Dawson finally find his power in the world “filled with monsters” he described in his project Bad Sports? The multi-dimensional star answered everything I could’ve ever pondered in his debut album, Pixel Bath.
From the beginning of the album, every single song pushed me to feel as if my 20-year-old brain had been transported into my 10-year-old body. My mind sits in the angst of my adolescence, while the TV blasts the theme song to Ben 10 in the background. My thoughts may be veering in the wrong direction; however, the innocent cartoon keeps me grounded. Dawson’s musical masterpiece will have you reveling in nostalgia while also pondering what life looks like when you're in a struggle for power within your own life.
Dawson consistently utilizes playful, yet jarring, undertones in order to take the pain away from the deleterious imagery put forth lyrically. This coupling stimulates contrasting emotions whilst also bringing two sides to every single track. The divergence of sensations reminded me of a young BROCKHAMPTON, or even, a more recent JPEGMAFIA.
Dawson, however, separates himself from this generation of artists through his perfection of genre-blending. Whether it be the in-your-face, energy-infused production in “06 Burst” or the bedroom-pop/rock/punk mashup “Pegasus,” Dawson does not fail to push his own personal sound. The album does not fail to venture outside the world of hip-hop, either. Songs like “Power Freaks” and “Triple Double” add an alternative, Green Day-esque sound to the project. This can be attributed to the punky guitar solos, along with deep, electric bass hits that make you reminisce back to the old days of pop-punk. "Triple Double" also utilizes a very surprising feature from the superstar A$AP Rocky. The list of genres spanned in the album is unmatched by anything I have heard prior. The amount of experimentalism used may even be a close second to that of 100 gecs.
On this album, you will witness a persistent use of cheery guitar riffs accompanied by upbeat, exuberant synthesizers. This new, perfected sound can be attributed to a large production overhaul. The mixture of Jean Dawson and Zach Fogarty, who produced 11 of the 13 tracks, legitimately helped Jean Dawson move from underground potential to a soon to be a superstar. The chemistry of these two can be compared to that of Chris Paul throwing a perfect, flashy dime to Blake Griffin to just have it dunked with more magnificence. Fogarty, who found his original stardom co-producing parts of Cat Heaven by Roy Blair, genuinely deserves to be in a much heavier spotlight than he is in right now.
The sheer idea of boredom is unfathomable while listening to this album. I highly recommend pulling out Genius to fully grasp the contrast between the lyrics and production. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the same spot as me on your first listen: emphatically overwhelmed. It took me copious amounts of listens to fully grasp the beauty behind this album. This, however, garnered the album a 9.3/10. Tracks like “Starface*” and “Devilish” are the staples of this album; if you want to understand Dawson from the beginning, listen to these tracks before the full listen. These tracks will give you a true insight into the conflicted headspace that Dawson explores throughout this work.
Dawson undoubtedly found the power and strength he lacked in Bad Sports and rose to the top in Pixel Bath. He may “Just be a boy,” as he states in numerous tracks; however, he has found insuperable power to put behind that minimal statement. Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend!