Photo: Nico Hernandez
Pixel Bath has been a long time coming for Tijuana-born artist Jean Dawson, and it does not disappoint. The 13-track album is a self-contained world; reveling in its own sense of triumph, Pixel Bath is Dawson's most adventurous endeavor yet.
Featuring a whole host of collaborators both old (Lecx Stacy, Hoskins) and new (A$AP Rocky, Jim-E Stack, Gabe Wax), Pixel Bath touches on themes of belonging, power, and death. Be it garage rock delivery over 2000's alt-pop production ("Devilish"), synthwave homages ("Shiner"), or a brief foray into industrial rap ("06 Burst"), Dawson is relentless in tugging at the common threads between seemingly distinct genres, determined to see what happens when it all unravels.
Pixel Bath puts Dawson's command over catchy melodies on full display, particularly on cuts like "Bruiseboy" and "Starface*." "Bruiseboy," which was released as a single back in February, is a manic journey through the twilight zone between imagination and reality. Over fleeting drums and fuzzy organs, Dawson sings, "You saw my dreams and you saw your face."
The project's crown jewel comes in the form of the A$AP Rocky-assisted "Triple Double." The track is an exuberant celebration of Pixel Bath - Dawson's own triple double performance. On "Triple Double," Dawson dubs himself "black boy with the lil' Kobe." The A$AP Mob ringleader chimes in, "Bitch, I’m a G and I’m cute / Parlay with Jean in the coupe."
Not unlike the rest of Pixel Bath, album closer "Pyrotechnics" finds harmony in the cacophonous. The heavenly, atmospheric production and Dawson's detached delivery lend a dreamlike quality to the track which is subsequently grounded by lyrics about armageddon and imagery of the sky catching fire.
The common link between each song is the unwavering resolve with which Dawson stares down his demons. The devil takes several forms throughout the project. On "Clear Bones," it's the Grim Reaper. On "Pegasus" and Bandcamp Day special release "Policia," it's the threat of state-sponsored violence. At times, it's the naysayers, and at others, himself.
Regardless, Dawson stands his ground in the face of the various bogeymen. The avant-popstar says it best on "Power Freaks:" "I know they don't want smoke with me / Play dead, pussy boy, get ate."
Listen to Pixel Bath below: