Arts & Entertainment

ALBUM REVIEW: Jazmin Bean’s ‘Traumatic Livelihood’

Horror pop musician, makeup artist and “genderless monster” Jazmin Bean tells their survival story through their newest album.

We are nearly on the other side of another busy quarter. It feels like just yesterday it was Halloween, yet we are nearing finals week at a rapid pace. Despite this, it’s important to take some time for yourself: delve into your hobbies, or – if you’re like me – listen to some good music. Luckily, I was excited to find out that one of my most liked artists dropped a new album last week, and that is Jazmin Bean’s “Traumatic Livelihood.”  

Jazmin Bean, also known as Jasmine Adams, is a makeup artist and musician from London, England. Though not much is known about Jazmin’s past, they described their early years as quite lonely as they had little to no friends. Their mother and father belonged to a punk-rock band named “Fluffy.” They also stated to have Filipino ancestry and identify themselves as agender.  

Bean was first discovered for their talents at the age of fifteen. Specifically, Bean was recorded during a live performance where they sang Marina and the Diamonds “Starring Role” at a bar. Despite garnering attention for their unique style and beautiful voice, they also called forth attention by covering themselves in chicken blood and liver during this performance. 

Surprisingly, the internet was intrigued by this brutal interpretation of an already heartbreaking song. But that was not the end of Jazmin’s unique limelight. In 2019, Bean made a special appearance on two shows, “Hooked on the Look” and “Transformed,” both produced by Truly. They also appeared on Vogue’s “Extreme Beauty” series on YouTube. These all revolved heavily around Jazmin’s one –of-a-kind style.  

They describe themselves as a “genderless monster.” Their makeup is heavily inspired by the metal scene’s corpse paint, with the use of pastel pink and other soft colors. The duality of wearing frilly, pink dresses while wearing corpse paint reminiscent makeup perfectly encapsulates the bitter sweetness that is Jazmin Bean. 

Since then, they have gone on to start their own cruelty-free and vegan makeup brand, Cult Candy Cosmetic. They also decided to pursue a professional music career and released some singles through their own indie label, Aswang Birthday Cake. Later on, they signed a record label deal with Interscope Records, and re-released their first album “Worldwide Torture” with an additional six songs. 

Bean released their second studio album “Traumatic Livelihood” on February 23, 2024. Compared to their previous album (which better encapsulated the genres of hyper pop, trap metal and pastel goth), on “Traumatic Livelihood,” Bean decided to lean towards a softer sound that could best be described as horror pop, a sub-genre of horror punk, and alternative pop. 

The instrumentals throughout the entirety of “Traumatic Livelihood” are reminiscent of early 2000s pop-rock from artists such as Avril Lavigne. Vocally, their voice shares a similar vibe to that of Marina and the Diamonds. Lyrically, it is a mix of Lana Del Rey’s coquette expressionism and Ashnikko’s brutality. It’s for that reason that Bean is considered an artist that bends genres, and is a melting pot of different attributes that can be found throughout alternative music history.  

The subject matter of this album matches its name, as it focuses on difficult situations that Bean has experienced in their life, as well as some other subjects that they felt they should touch on. I will be sharing my favorite tracks of the album, while also providing a brief interpretation and summary.  

Jazmin posing for their upcoming album release “Traumatic Livelihood”. Photo by @jazminbean via Instagram.

“Favourite Toy” is one of the more musically upbeat tracks on the album. It consists of violins and a classic rock ensemble, with a synth opening, truly embodying an early Y2K rock ballad. The song itself speaks on the emotional, physical and mental repercussions from being in a toxic relationship. It specifically focuses on the sexual aspect of it and the co-dependency that can happen when someone is solely desired for their body.  

This bleeds into the way victims view their body, leading to disassociation and extreme low self-esteem. All these feelings are captured in the main chorus: “I feel nothing. Throw me in the back seat. Use me how you need, so long as I’m your favorite toy. Washed up, I’m cold and I’m alone. There’s no one around to follow. But at least I’m your favorite toy.” 

“Piggie” is a direct critique towards the “pervert[s] and virus[es]” that are middle aged men. Specifically, those that are sexual deviants, groomers and those that are attracted to younger girls. Though Bean never delved into details, they seemed to have been groomed early in their childhood, as they often reference having sent a grown man to prison when they were 14. To Jazmin, these men are like pigs “rolling in their own sh*t”. And right they are. This song condemns pedophiles, “Scumbags, bottom of the barrel.”  

“Fish” uses a direct metaphor to describe depression and addiction; both being things that Bean themself have struggled with. They describe the repetition of waking up every day, trying to escape the “abyss” as a fish with “no fins, sinking, drowning.” The irony of being a fish that is incapable of swimming and has “rocks in its belly” strikes heavily. It’s evident that the fish will continue to sink deeper, and no matter how much it struggles, it will be unable to swim to the surface, or anywhere else for that matter. This is by far my favorite track of the album.   

Finally, “You Know What You’ve Done” was the main song used to promote the album before its release. This is a song that encourages the relish of a victim when their abuser is suffering. It’s that progression of no longer loving your tormentor and instead growing resentful of what they did to you.  

So, you “hope [their] guilty conscience eats [them] up” and you “hope [they] see [your] face and then feel [your] pain.” It’s a natural step of grief, moving on from the self-loathing stages and instead directing that anger towards the root of the problem. I will finalize this section by sharing the chorus: “Payback takes its course without lifting a finger. My memories will follow, potent, it lingers. I can’t understand why you would want to hurt me. I do hope your past will always be a burden.” 

My final thoughts on “Traumatic Livelihood” are that I did quite enjoy listening to it. My only negative would have to be that some of the songs do sound very similar to each other. But Bean’s new sound is very refreshing, and sounds truer to who they are than their previous works. They have also vastly improved vocally. It’s very exciting to see that growth in artists as they polish their skills.  

The art direction is spectacular, and the subject matter is hard-hitting. Just like Bean, there is duality in the light-hearted melody and the dark lyricism. Bean has also showcased their unique style, set design and makeup skills through a few music videos that they created for this album. So, if this artist piques your interest, I highly encourage you to check out Jazmin Bean’s music. 

Bean’s entire discography can be found on all music streaming platforms.  

You Know What You’ve Done” music video. Video by Jazmin Bean Offical YouTube.

Featured photo caption: Jazmin showing off their “genderless monster” makeup alongside Sanrio character My Melody. @jazminbean via Instagram