The track opens with a grungy, fuzzed-out chord progression evocative of ‘Bleach’-era Nirvana, before a digitised drum beat and layer-stacked vocal melody whips listeners down an entirely different path. Dawson hits the (expletive-laden) chorus with a guttural wallop, paving the way for a cleanly rapped second verse to feel like a massive plot twist.
On that chorus, Dawson snarls: “Fuck up out my face / I don’t smile no more but we all great / That we fucking pray / I don’t hold my tongue, I bite the grain / Take my fucking name / Boy don’t say my motherfucking name.”
Have a listen to ‘MENTHOL*’ below:
In a press release, Dawson explained that his screamed bars on ‘MENTHOL*’ were a long time coming. “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,” he said.
“I don’t know if the song represents that at all but the song is just where I’m at with shit. I think I fully lost my ability to care about shit I don’t care about and it’s truly beautiful. I guess I’m really infatuated with the chaoticness that comes with the idea of tomorrow.”
‘MENTHOL*’ is Dawson’s second release for 2021, following the standalone single ‘Ghost*’ back in June. That track came as part of Apple Music’s Juneteenth-inspired ‘Freedom Songs’ project – upon its release, Dawson said it was “for the people who’ve felt unseen and unheard”.
The artist released his second album, ‘Pixel Bath’, last October. In a four-star review, NME’s Jenessa Williams said: “By refusing to limit his musical focus Dawson buys himself a future of authentic experimentation, thrilling the listener with unexpected twists and turns that do, miraculously, offer up something for everyone.”
Last year, DeMarco gave an update on his own aims for new music, saying he has no plans to release new material while the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing. “I’ve been writing songs,” he said, “but the idea of doing a full record and then the idea of that record coming out in the middle of a pandemic digitally only, and then there’s no prospect of ever performing these things unless it’s on a live stream or something…
“I’m worried we’re going to come out of coronavirus, and there’s going to be 9,000 albums that are all like: [Singing] ‘Oh quarantine, baby, baby.’”