De’Wayne is a man on a mission: “I’m banging on that door and if you don’t let me in, I’m going to kick it down, come in and say my piece,” the LA-via-Houston told NME in 2020. He began splintering that door with last year’s debut album ‘Stains’, and its follow-up ‘My Favorite Blue Jeans’ injects buckets of confidence and charisma into a stale radio-rock landscape.
Take album highlight ‘Sexi Boy’, where a head-banging, Cobain-esque chorus mingles with groovy, swaggering, auto-tuned pop verses. The combination works, in part, because Jackson is equally at home belting out throaty howl or indulging in his velvety soulfulness; the sense of fun and experimentation that’s crucial to good mainstream-minded rock music is very much alive on this record.
We hear this broad range frequently, from ‘Die Out Here’s electric singalong to randy funk on ‘Blue Jean Babe’ – all are thrilling. Jackson’s open-arms approach extends to the album’s guest appearances, too: features include alt-rappers grandson and Poorstacy, buzzy electro-rockers I Don’t Know How But They Found Me and pop-punk legends Good Charlotte. No matter the vibe of the song, though, rock is unmistakably his home base, demonstrated by the unapologetically massive choruses throughout.
The album charts the ups and downs of chasing a dream, the cost and obstacles. ‘Die Out Here’, for example, introduces his ambition (“You’re happy with a kid and a yard, yeah, fuck this!”), and on the fired-up ‘Good Mood,’ he nods to why his reclaiming of rock success as a Black artist is important: “Elvis infiltrated, I reverse it with my mens.” Ambition comes at a price, he admits. On ‘Card Declined Today,’ he’s broke and insecure, while on ‘Simple’ he sings of the slimy industry: “Every single person wants you now, but tomorrow’s a landfill.”
It’s gratifying to hear this honesty in place of sheer rock’n’roll bravado; while it feels like we’re hearing a budding star figure explore his musicality, he does so lyrically, too. It’s fitting for an album that takes apart and rebuilds modern rock. Never mind just booting down the door; De’Wayne is fixing the place up.
- Release date: October 28, 2022
- Record label: Hopeless Records