Vinyl Review: 'Bad Sports' by Jean Dawson
Before I hop into this, I believe that you should know who is supplying this conversation. My name is Finn Askin, and I am double majoring in journalism and real estate at Marquette University. I also love music more than anything. More specifically, I love records. Everything from the enhanced sound to the intricate cover art, to the vinyl itself.
Jean Dawson is a 25-year old from Tijuana that is pushing the boundaries of what pop-punk can sound like. Each song on his debut project Bad Sports is a hit and achieves this status through numerous genres. He ranges from pop, punk, rap, R&B, alternative, and uses these combinations of genres to create experimental music like his singles “OOGA BOOGA” and “Glacier Gallery.” The young man boasts 340,000+ monthly listeners on Spotify, and has glided past 1,000,000 listens on his hits “Bull Fighter,” "Power Freaks," and “Bruise Boy.” His music has heavy relations to the sounds of Jack Larsen, Deb Never, and a younger, grungier Kevin Abstract.
Before we go into the substance and audio experience that the vinyl provides, I need to address the cover art. Jean Dawson chose a reflective image for the cover—both literally and metaphorically. The chrome cover reflects the sunlight and his persona. Speaking on the former of the two, this makes for an incredibly photogenic outer vinyl sleeve. Light refracts off the glossy cover more than anything previously imaginable. Speaking on the latter of the two aspects, the art embodies a satirical comment on his life—both questioning his musical genre, and his place in society. Raised in turbulence, Dawson found himself in trials daily as a Mexican child in a difficult San Diego landscape, crossing the border as a mandate for education. This complex form of identity carries strongly with him as he pushes the boundaries of music, redefining what a singular musician can do. In my humble opinion, the artwork encapsulates who he is as a person and as a creator. He is depicted as blank-faced with metal clips throughout his hair. This look perfectly exemplifies the ideologies put forth throughout the album. Renewing his satirical emphasis, Dawson’s head seamlessly blends into the rest of the cover—emphasizing how he could have melded into mediocrity as society would have expected.
Furthermore, the inside consists of a track and contributor list on the right side, while the left side portrays an inverted-color image with flowers covering the face of Dawson. The same artwork appears on the inner ring of the clear vinyl, accompanied by a solid “ Side A” and “Side B” script. Overall, this record easily has the most infatuating cover in my collection. Nothing disappoints surrounding the physical aspects of the vinyl, and the music backs it up perfectly.
Jean Dawson hits on every single track on this album. Beginning with “Flirting*," you're quickly introduced to the elusive production style of Lecx Stacy—deep 808s with guitar undertones that seem to belong on a Cage the Elephant project, and synthesizers that will have you shaking in your boots. Stacy utilizes these tactics throughout the entirety of Bad Sports and does so in a way that transitions you into the next track seamlessly. Lyrically, Dawson does the same. He continuously depicts his struggles with growing up in a tough area and dealing with the “Creepers at [his] door," in “90’s Green Screen.” A sense of security has never been a feeling experienced by Dawson.
In addition to his neighborhood struggles, Dawson vocalizes his ideologies on what death means. Copious amounts of imagery surrounding the demise of Dawson himself are placed throughout. However, Dawson’s portrayals all end with the same sort of thesis: we are in charge of saving ourselves from the pain in death. The death of Dawson—and all of us—is obviously inevitable, but it’s about one's ability to see that and push to a point where you can “Laugh at the devil” in his face.
VINYL RATING: 10/10
ALBUM RATING: 8.5/10
Overall, I cannot recommend this record enough. If you're looking for a vinyl that is wonderfully photogenic and includes music that will leave you wanting more, COP THIS RECORD (linked below). Like any vinyl, you will be enveloped by the angelic sound quality from the beginning. The production alone puts this vinyl in my top three, and I imagine his next works will only exceed my expectations. I foresee Dawson being huge within the next three years and beyond, so maybe snagging his debut record wouldn’t be a bad idea.
The sky is this man’s only limit. I am heavily looking forward to his debut album Pixel Bath, which is set to release October 24, 2020. As Jean Dawson put it: “Be the you, you wanna be”. Thank you and have a wonderful week.