Joji’s new Smithereens uses the same approach for his old songs, and I am here to appreciate it


Apple Music

The cover for Joji’s fourth studio album, Smithereens. A fine blue and green gradient to keep its simplicity.

Like yesterday, I remember nervously untangling my knotted headphones, and quickly turning on my favorite Joji songs while on the bus or walking in the halls

Then, “Yeah Right” by Joji was the only song that played through the small speakers. The entire album, BALLADS 1, funny enough, appeared three years in a row on my Replay playlist, defining the next three years of my life.

His newest album, Smithereens, exposes a familiar facet of himself in a new light this time; a different approach to the same meticulous creations I love to listen to—the same dark and soothing spells.

I remember waiting for Joji to release more after BALLADS 1—and when that too was only his second album. After transforming his name into one more recognizable and well-loved, his albums have been proving to be bolder than the last. 

After having to wait two years for more, on Nov. 4, 2022, Smithereens was released across most streaming services. It flows through this inherently sweet alternative sound with some of Joji’s lyrics to finish the song, but those were the exact aspects that drew me to his music in the first place all that time ago. 

‘Glimpse of Us’ and ‘Die For You’ have the same pronounced sensation of being lonely and distanced from the rest of the realistic world, despite everything we need to bring at our disposal. 

One aspect I loved about BALLADS 1 was how the lyrics felt detached from the songs in a way that played with your brain and how the song was perceived. Deliberately, all 24 minutes of Smithereens carefully twist your awareness of its many musical layers and final touches.

Smithereens felt similar to his older work that I’ve been listening to for a while as well, as it shows him playing with the sounds of words and auto-tuning to match the rest of the dramatic flare he has already set up. 

“1AM freestyle” is the greatest embodiment of the fun and catchy side. It is the last song on the two disks of the album, but it takes me back to the times I picked through my songs and playlists to listen to this and “Blahblahblah Demo.”

Sticking with the short and straightforward name like his previous album, Nectar, his newest album doesn’t sound generic or half-planned. Disk one, however, contains qualities that I didn’t expect to be a part of it, leaving me just feeling slightly off because I didn’t like how the vocals were more of the focus.

I would much rather have both of the disks sharing the same eminent vocals; it would’ve made his newest album bloom. It feels like disc two of Smithereens is more of the electronic and experimental part of an alternative album, rather than incorporating it throughout all nine songs. 

Breaking up the different vitalities for a Joji album works out better than I initially thought. “Glimpse of Us” and “Die For You” have the same pronounced sensation of being lonely and distanced from the rest of the realistic world, despite everything we need to bring at our disposal. 

Disc two draws out the sensation in the listeners; the purpose of the seemingly insignificant break in Smithereens is genius. Also, it helps to cover the fact that the album isn’t lengthy whatsoever and seemed to end as quickly as it started. 

All his albums alike, they’re all a brief half an hour, meaning to release the encapsulated emotion Joji intended for the album. With Smithereens, the sound and execution were faultless—sounding vividly similar to an album that has memories smeared all over it, I could also pick out the improvements in his pitch and matching the bigger picture. 

With November coming to a close soon and December just a jump away, 2022 doesn’t have that much room to make for another “greatest album,” but the revolutionary sounds he reintroduced to me deserve a spot amongst them.