Review: Had to learn to let go

Joji’s most recent album, “SMITHEREENS”, showcases the artists talent and adds to his deep, heart-wrenching discography


Warner Records

Last week, 88rising and Warner Records released “Smithereens,” the third studio album by Japanese singer-songwriter Joji.

Joji has been on the rise for the past few years, thriving in the ever burgeoning alternative pop music scene. Releases like “Ballads 1” and “Nectar” show his natural talent at making dark, introspective, and sometimes chilling music. His recent album, “Smithereens”, released on November 4, was highly anticipated. Singles like the amazing ballad “Glimpse Of Us” and more straightforward pop song “Yukon Interlude” were extremely well received, by both fans and general audiences. Does the album as a whole stand on its own, or is it overshadowed by its lead singles? 

Joji as a writer is astonishing. His capability to make powerful but simple lyrics is unmatched, and particularly on this album they shine as always. On songs like the aforementioned “Glimpse Of Us,” but also on deeper cuts like “Blahblahblah Demo” the heartbreaking nature of Joji’s songwriting is perfectly communicated to the listener. However, it seems Joji didn’t want lyrics to be the core focus as I feel the vocals are more blended into the instrumentation to make an atmospheric tone. 

Vocally, I don’t find Joji to be that remarkable. Don’t get me wrong, his vocals serve his music well, and he does have his moments, but on this album they do not take the spotlight. However, on songs like “Die For You” they do make a larger impact. As previously mentioned however, I feel the vocals are used more to build the soundscapes rather than as the key focus. 

Instrumentally, I think this album does what it set out to do. While I don’t find them to be masterpieces, production as a whole is clearly the focus on this album and it successfully builds a watery, chill, nighttime drive-esque sound and it makes for easy listening if nothing else. 

In my final thoughts, I think this album falls victim to its own success. The lead singles are amazing and it causes the deeper cuts to feel somewhat less exhilarating. Do I recommend this album? Sure, I think it is a good record, but it’s not his best work.