A woman in a flow-y tiered pink gown twirls in a fresh cut field. A lamb stands in front of her.

National Review: Jazmin Bean – Traumatic Livelihood

National Music Reviews

Jazmin Bean
Traumatic Livelihood 

Island Records
Street: 02.27
Jazmin Bean = carolesdaughter √ Melanie Martinez + Beach Bunny x Poppy

The mania of the girlboss genre never felt as impactful as it intended to be. Whether the catchy beat blurs out the underlying message or seems malicious after a quick listen, they’ve always felt disconnected from their audience. If capitalized on the light-hearted, “stick to your sisterly roots” memorandum, your track could be mistaken for an early-folk Taylor Swift; only to lose its flair through replays. If it’s a loud, slap-to-the-face pop that borders on seeking aggression, you’ll be in line with Cardi B’s “WAP”an approach that could be parodied and frowned-upon by Ben Shapiro. There’s a need for something that can bring tranquility within listeners—both male and female. Something to make you feel bold and confident, but think after the last song fades to silence. Behold, the pastel Easter egg goth Jazmin Bean brings Traumatic Livelihood, whose delegated message for empowerment is validated through a gut-wrenching journey. 

Uncannily dark with a speckle of Sanrio’s Hello Kitty color palette, Traumatic Livelihood seems to drill a gauntlet of abuses (drugs, domestic, physical and sexual). The heavy subject matter bleeds together with a Y2k alt-pop smog, mirroring the decades-old rock orchestration à la Evanescence. Think of that depressing “So Alone” Jamster ringtone by Anna Blue. What could emulate a nostalgia trip of late night summertime treks by foot takes a disturbing turn. It’s almost like Bean is saying that all memories, even the grimy ones, stay brightly clear. That’s not to say this past of regret holds her back. 

Each slow-roll track travels adagio to listener’s eardrums, grinding the silky treads and shooting fiery revenge at all degeneracy that she (and sadly, many other women) have endured. The track “Piggie” depicts the dead-fitting metaphor for pedophilia. “Midlife crisis / Pervert, a virus / Mum’s scared, dad’s upstate / Oh wow, you’re so mature for your age.” It’s this reversed wordplay and childish demeanor throughout the track that flips the rolls, treating her abuser as a helpless victim. The same goes for tracks like “Bitch with The Gun,” where Bean treats the manipulative gaslighting tactic of calling women “crazy” as a what if. She’s almost saying she’ll show everyone how ‘crazy’ she can fucking be! “From the bullets shot in all of your lies / I’m the bitch with the gun / I could be your demise.” The title of standout track, obviously, has to go to “Stockholm Butterfly.” Stripped from the name of the psychological condition, Bean staggers through affinity and hatred toward past lovers. 

Generally speaking, the album does come with gradual runtime that stretches a bit too long. All the songs amplify that gothic pink persona, making it both edgy and conflicting, but its dragging metronome can be a lot to handle. Not that there’s anything wrong with a steady burn vibe, but it’s for every track, especially for the weakest track on the album—“Fish.” What’s it about? Becoming addicted to a virtual iPad fishing game…They can’t all be gold. I would highly suggest not throwing on this mauve saw blade record if you’re planning a girls night out. 

The way I see it, Jazmin Bean is witnessing both the ending to her damaged past and the beginning of a better future…yet she’ll have to wait. Her triumphant victory of escaping her abusive relationships are not met with the fireworks show most are anticipating. Yes, she’s a stronger person now. However, its price for empowerment should have never been paid. Traumatic Livelihood represents the blackened eye that time may heal physically, but the emotional wear-and-tear will always remain. –Alton Barnhart

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