Saturday, November 12, 2022

Joji Examines The Pieces Left Over From Heartbreak In New Album ‘SMITHEREENS’.

Split into two discs comes the fourth studio album ‘SMITHEREENS’ from YouTube Star turned celebrated musician Joji (George Miller). After the huge success of single ‘Glimpse of Us’, that hit it big across social media and the charts respectively, Joji has released a short LP that packs a raw punch.

The opener ‘Glimpse of Us’ is a heartfelt piano ballad that relies on controlled vocals and lyrical honesty, with the latter proving to have resonated with the masses due to its huge commercial success. His harmonies are layered over one another in a haunting manner which adds emotional depth to a piece that clearly draws on a personal experience for Miller.

It is followed by the lacklustre ‘Feeling Like The End’, a mid-tempo rhythmic song that’s foundation is synthy trap beats which are slightly jarring compared to the delicacy that came before. It also only runs for 1:42 seconds, which leaves Miller barely any time to delve into his true feelings, leaving the track unfulfilling.

Its counterpart sonically - ‘Before The Day Is Over’ - manages to execute a more consistent take on contemporary R&B. The lyrics are melancholic – “I know it won’t be long / I know you’re almost gone". Joji takes a more laid-back performance style with his captivating vocals, relaying his admittance of acceptance within the relationship to fuel the power of the performance. It manages to be much more effective than ‘Feeling Like The End’.

Die For You’ is a return to form and is experimental in nature. A soft piano melody reminiscent of a lullaby, combined with slightly distorted vocals creates an atmospheric and soulful offering. The vocals are layered distantly, creating a sense of the song being played in the next room. It also has other production elements sprinkled throughout that are electronic and abstract, continuing its dreamlike quality.

Closing the first disc of the record is ‘Dissolve’ - a dichotomy of elements. Its core production choice is a repetitive guitar riff that Joji pairs with vocal distortion that gives his voice a robotic flair. Although the elements are an unlikely combination, the metallic twang of the guitar plays well with the vocal, giving it a strong feel of originality.

Opening disc two is ‘NIGHT RIDER’, a track that quickly communicates a sonic shift between the two sides of the album. This tune is contemporary and almost industrial, underscored again with rolling trap drums and synths that echo the grittier feel of this disc overall.

Follow-up ‘BLAHBLAHBLAH DEMO’ could have been an unfinished throwaway, but it doesn’t feel like it needs refinement and fits in well with the darker aesthetic of the second half of the album. It has an overall intensity that is commonplace for Joji spurred by dour lyrics “I can’t be the only one / I wanna be forever young”.

YUKON (INTERLUDE)’ is an infusion of deep, dark piano and low bass that then kicks into an up-tempo layering of trap drum beats, giving it momentum. It’s slightly experimental as it plays with repetition of vocal notes and piano moments that stand out throughout, ultimately making it the most realised number on the track list and a high point for the album.

Closing the album is ‘1AM FREESTYLE’ which is an honest freestyle that benefits from the format as the delivery is simple and not overwritten. “You know you can make it / But you can’t make it alone” is haunting and a common theme throughout ‘SMITHEREENS’. Ending with it feels like closure. This is especially prevalent when you play the album on a loop and get an insight into why Joji might favour being in a relationship that isn’t as good as a previous one in ‘Glimpse Of Us’.

Overall, due to the 24-minute runtime, some of the ideas on the album leave you wanting more, but in the same breath it also benefits from the simplicity. His narration running throughout is candid and pieced together. Much like the themes throughout ‘SMITHEREENS’ is unfinished and repetitive because it reflects an open exploration of feeling. It will hold its own amongst his discography and is worth a listen to gain insight into Miller’s true self.

Jessica McCarrick


Image: ‘SMITHEREENS’ Official Album Cover

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Here;