Album review: Jazmin Bean – Traumatic Livelihood

Alt. superstar Jazmin Bean matches beauty with terrible darkness on deep debut album...

Album review: Jazmin Bean – Traumatic Livelihood
Luke Morton

Sometimes you listen to an album and the lyrics are so deeply layered in metaphor and innuendo that you’re able to transpose your own real life experiences – positive or negative – into the music. Other times, however, the words are so blunt and imagery so stark that you’re instantly immersed in lived experience in chilling, horrific detail. Enter Jazmin Bean, the ethereal enigma who shot to fame through their hypergore aesthetic and alt.pop a few years ago, now back with a vengeance after losing themselves to addiction and abuse, reclaiming their identity both personally and as an artist.

The black-eyed, bizarro-Barbie look has gone, with Jazmin stripping themselves back and revealing their true self for the first time. This symbolic cleansing goes hand-in-hand with the painful truth of Traumatic Livelihood, where Jazmin leaves no stone unturned in this biography of brutality. Throughout the record we hear tales of addiction, toxic relationships, sexual abuse and self-loathing, fastened together with lyrics that pull no punches like, ‘I feel nothing, throw me in the backseat / Use me how you need as long as I’m your favourite toy,’ or the story of taking drugs at a funeral on Black Dress, or the harrowing, ‘For fucks’s sake I was just a child’.

Jazmin’s experience of being groomed as a teenager underpins the record, surrounded by their spirals into drug abuse and dependence on toxic, ultimately dangerous people. Yet, despite the nightmarish lyrical content like, ‘My body’s filled with roaches and my nose is long from lying’, sonically it doesn’t exist in the shadows. It’s shimmering with dreamlike alt.pop wonder, driven by Jazmin’s penchant for a huge, hooky chorus like on the aforementioned Favourite Toy or Bitch With A Gun. Yet, despite these orchestrated moments of catharsis, the whole thing feels very organic, with no set structure, almost like a stream of consciousness with someone working through their shit, as songs come and go in fleeting moments with no contrived resolution.

It does feel, however, that Jazmin is in search of their own ending, to put a full stop on the trauma. This is about redemption and finally being ready to live the rest of their lives outside of the shadows, something most visible on You Know What You’ve Done, as they move from the sorrowful ‘Still can’t believe you saw my naked body vulnerable’ to the point-blank ‘I hope you slip and break your neck.’

In truth, these examples are just scratching the surface of all this record encompasses, as it stands as one of the most unrelenting and unflinching records of the year, coming from the mind of an artist who finally is just getting started. On their own terms.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Poppy, carolesdaughter, Ashnikko

Traumatic Livelihood is out now via An aswang birthday cake / Island

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