CTV3 by JADEN: a psychedelic meandering in isolation

It’s mellow, nostalgic, colorful and sad. The hypnotic music video for “Cabin Fever” brings the wistful imagery of “Tall palm trees and kaleidoscope dreams” to life.” In Jaden’s third studio album “CTV3,” he is definitely imagining, and even reminiscing about, a familiar reality that seems to be drifting away. The songs are full of retrospective reflections and emotional explorations, suitable for this time of great uncertainty—a time where excess feelings have to stay at home.

“Falling for You” features Justin Bieber, to whom Jaden owes his 2008 debut track “Never Say Never”—a full circle moment for Jaden’s musical journey. The chorus is a playful punchline that lacks self-awareness: “I think I’m fallin’ for you/if you don’t call me I’ll jump off the roof.” “Everything” is a change of pace, featuring a beautiful background instrumental that demonstrates his sonic breadth—however, his musicianship is overshadowed by the monotonous chorus of the single line “You’re my everything.” 

If his previous projects of “Syre” and “Erys” evoke memories that we never had, then to a certain extent “CTV3,” despite its flaws, stands as a remembrance of a (cyber, emotional, temporal) space and time we used to know. 

The album heavily features guitar ballads against a background of various pop and R&B instrumentals, allowing the melodies to explore the possibilities of both comfort and anxiety. Jaden is “ dreamin’ bout a summertime” of unrequited summer love; cruising by the coast with the top down, music blasting; hanging out with friends at a beach picnic; holding hands; dancing—all of which are out of reach right now. He’s dreaming about a “summertime” in summer, alluding to a feeling of displacement in time and experience that we are all exhausted and overwrought by. Carefree no more. Although with a conspicuous appropriation of elements from his contemporaries (Frank Ocean, Tyler, the Creator, Post Malone), he presents an altered reality where the sounds that represent our generation exist in a reimagined space of placid solitude and playful serenity.

What this album offers is a vision of millennial sensibility and fragility that resonates at this juncture of past and future—an end to the simple comfort we took for granted. “Girl, I really wanna believe ya/If you love me, how come I never see ya? Eating marshmallow pies while you’re flying through the sky/Girl, I got that cabin fever.” 

It’s nostalgic, and captures the essence of universal youthful hopelessness and playfulness—the melodrama of unstable love, the emotional turmoil of lost connections—all of which sound like bliss compared to the agitation that the world is in. 

Compared to his previous projects, which contained too many concepts and not enough thoughtfulness, this album is focused on conveying one general sentiment with poetic attunement. Stylistically the most coherent of Jaden’s creations, “CTV3” shows both ambition and attentive curation. The result? A saccharine desolation. 

This longing for love, fun and pink sunsets is what makes us feel the most displaced in isolation, in a time when the sky is on fire and people can’t breathe.

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