Jean Dawson’s Pixel Bath era has been officially behind us since the all encompassing “Pyrotechnics” music video back in August. It was an era like no other, convoluted with creativity, every piece of the large puzzle striking more awe than the last – not to mention that Pixel Bath itself is one of my favorite albums of all-time. Yet it’s time to step it up a notch. That was just the precursor to something even more special - get ready for Chaos Now.
“MENTHOL*” featuring Mac DeMarco is an anthem of solitude. Jean explores the pressure he feels from the outside world, having lots of eyes on him, yet lacking eyes that care about him. This leads to turning to smoking, singing, “I find my hope inside my smoke / My eyes turn red like / Devilish on a Sunday.” This line has a double meaning, as his eyes can literally turn red, like the devil. It is also a reference to Jean’s track “Devilish” – a song about putting on a mask to appear different in public. Both of these ring true, as Jean resorts to other methods to disguise his true feelings.
The pre-chorus, as featured in snippets posted to Jean’s Instagram, is my favorite part of the track. He reveals the mask he wears – a smoke cloud – expressing how smoking completely distorts who he is. However, he ends it by singing, “I ain’t been afraid / bitch I live afraid so what’s my name?” implying he is breaking out of this shell, no longer worried about how he may be perceived.
Speaking on the track, Jean said, “I've just been wanting to scream all the time – not out of anger or any emotion I can pinpoint but just scream at the top of my lungs at nothing. I don't know if the song represents that at all but the song is just where I'm at with shit.” This manifests itself in a loud and bashful chorus that highlights Jean’s rock influence.
Producer Zach Fogarty, per usual, creates an unparalleled listening environment on the track. The beginning of the song had a consistent guitar riff and varying drums, yet the chorus brings as perfect a beat drop as one could possibly have in a rock song. Shining ever so subtly through the craziness are beautiful backing vocals, something that could easily be missed yet provide another element to the chorus. Jean’s first lines are, “Fuck up out my face / I don’t smile no more but we ok” expressing how he is fed up with the outside world, even angry at it. He is taking control – getting everyone out of his face implies he no longer has to worry about wearing a mask, not out of acceptance but rather as a sign of self confidence. He continues on this theme, telling everyone to get his name out their mouths.
The beat mellows out after the chorus, yet Jean’s tone remains loud – an ode to Tyler, The Creator’s “911 / Mr. Lonely” in multiple ways. Jean’s uproarious vocals demonstrate some of the key themes from that track, as Tyler rapped, “I say the loudest in the room / Is prolly the loneliest one in the room,” an idea that rings true in Jean’s message. On the second verse on “MENTHOL*” Jean sings, “The loneliest one / Be making the flowers grow,” a reference to not only the aforementioned lines by Tyler, but also to the entire Flower Boy album. Tyler and Jean are true manifestations of this idea, as they each have bloomed into two of the most astounding flowers you will ever come across.
The track is set off by a guitar solo leading into an outro by Mac DeMarco. Mac enters as the one caring light for Jean in a world that seemingly lacks any, affirming the feelings Jean previously expressed: “I think I fully lost my ability to care about shit I don't care about and it’s truly beautiful,” He said, reflecting on the track. “I guess I'm really infatuated with the chaoticness that comes with the idea of tomorrow.”
You will be doing music itself an injustice by not keeping up with the chaos Jean Dawson is creating. Listen to "MENTHOL*" below: