Jean Dawson Emerges Triumphant in the Stunning New ‘CHAOS NOW*’
By Nathan Leigh
October 7, 2022
Never one to stand in one place for long, the ever creatively restless Jean Dawson has been on a tear lately. Jumping from high to high, the singles leading up to the release of his latest CHAOS NOW* have shown an artist refusing to be pinned down to genre, instead following his muse where it leads. The end result is his strongest record to date, a deeply introspective collection that finds him wrestling with himself and coming out victorious.
“THREE HEADS*” rides an aggressive start-stop rhythm but Dawson peppers it with moments of huge harmonies and beauty that presages the extremes he navigates throughout the record. The acoustic guitars of “GLORY*” transform into an anthemic singalong hook before being swallowed by distortion and noise. The industrial rage of “POSITIVE ONE NEGATIVE ONE*” leads into the Earl Sweatshirt-featuring “BAD FRUIT*” which is hands down just the most beautiful song Jean Dawson has ever written. The tension-and-release Jean navigates through the album call back to 90’s alt rock titans but with his own unique stamp. Tracks lke “KIDS EAT PILLS*” and “SCREW FACE*” embrace the title wholeheartedly, following unexpected sonic paths, as if Dawson is attempting to shape the raw materials of chaos into something, or maybe summon chaos from broken pieces.
Wisely, Jean Dawson saves the record’s best tracks for the back half, where the career highlight “PORN ACTING*” leads into the appropriately 80’s “BLACK MICHAEL JACKSON*” before Dawson summons his inner guitar god for the triumphant and defiant “HUH*” For someone who is so often at home with an acoustic guitar to unleash his inner Brian May is a glorious release. The closing pair “SICK OF IT*” and “PIRATE RADIO*” take the two extremes of Dawson’s sound to their logical end with a straight up pop-punk banger leading into a surprisingly hopeful string-driven closer. For all the darkness Dawson hints at in his lyrics, it’s almost shocking to hear him close out with that kind of optimism. Singing “I push my head underwater, just to come up for air” and declaring his own surprise at having made it this far, Dawson has stared deep into the chaos within and come away having found some measure of peace. For an album anchored by so many strong standalone singles, the totality of the experience elevates the singles to something truly singular.
Follow Jean Dawson on socials @jeandawsn for more.
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