Joji Blows Our Hearts to “SMITHEREENS” With Long-Awaited New Album


Photo from Joji’s official Twitter

Promotional photo for “SMITHEREENS”.

Isabel Sundergill, Writer

On November 4th, Japanese-Australian R&B artist Joji released his highly anticipated third studio album, SMITHEREENS. It features nine tracks, including singles “Glimpse Of Us” and “YUKON (INTERLUDE)”, and a run time of 24 minutes.


George Miller, who many know by his stage name, Joji, wasn’t always famous for his musical talent. Joji’s career began on YouTube in 2011 when he gained notoriety for his personas: Filthy Frank and Pink Guy. Joji released two albums under the Pink Guy alias full of crude, vulgar and nonsensical lyrics, which are in direct contrast to the melancholic ballads Joji is known for. His most popular song, “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK”, has nearly 1 billion streams on Spotify. Joji has released three albums: BALLADS 1, Nectar, and SMITHEREENS, in addition to one EP, In Tongues.


Compared to the praise on his previous projects, many Joji listeners are calling SMITHEREENS mediocre, uninspired and forgetful. “It felt more or less unfinished and underwhelming,” expressed Dominic Schuder, a Northwest High School Senior. Schuder continues, “I went through it thinking, ‘man, I’m kind of bored. I hope the next track is better.’” 


Despite the many reviews calling the album simply “good,” many are praising the relatable themes of heartbreak including, Canon-McMillan High School Junior, Aydia McLain. “Personally, I relate to the entire album a lot, but some of the songs that truly speak to me are ‘Die For You’, ‘YUKON (INTERLUDE)’, and ‘Glimpse Of Us’”. 


McLain continued to add, “Going through a tough breakup and finding things out that aren’t the sweetest thing to hear sucks, and these songs have lyrics that are heavily relatable.” McLain recalls the line “burning photos, had to learn to let go,” from the third track, “Die For You”, after thinking about their favorite lyric.


There has been a lot of love for “Die For You”, which is unanimously agreed upon as a standout track on SMITHEREENS in addition to “Glimpse Of Us”, while the rest of the songs sort of blend into each other. 


“I feel bad because as much as I’d like to say “Glimpse Of Us”, I feel that “NIGHT RIDER” is my favorite track. To me, some Joji songs you can kind of listen to once and if you play it again, it sounds annoying or like you’re ruining an experience. I like being able to repeat songs because they’re good,” answers Oakdale Senior, Abby Lipman. 


When asked about her thoughts on the album in its entirety, she goes on to add, “I was thinking about how most of these songs are about love/mistakes and wondering why some of them are just dragging on and on.”


Lipman talks about her changing music taste and how it affects her opinion on SMITHEREENS: “For me, it’s been hit or miss with Joji. I think this album is in the middle for me, but I’m completely biased because I used to be super into the slower-paced songs. Now I just like music that’s a little faster and less sad. I think this album isn’t the best, but it’s definitely not the worst.”


With the release of SMITHEREENS, there has been constant debate on how it compares to Joji’s other projects and where his music will go from here. “Compared to In Tongues and BALLADS 1, SMITHEREENS scoops their crap and gargles it down. Even Nectar, which was a pretty big downgrade from BALLADS 1, clears SMITHEREENS,” adds Schuder.


McLain expresses their hope for better Joji projects in the future. “I think SMITHEREENS is similar to Joji’s previous work in some ways, but with every artist’s new work, there are always ways that they improve and change their music styles.”

In my personal opinion, I feel that SMITHEREENS could have been released as an extended play rather than a full-length album. The majority of the tracks felt like incomplete material and a build-up that never led to anything. The release of “Glimpse Of Us” gave me very high expectations for the album, but I was left feeling disappointed, as I feel that the track is the best track. I liked “1AM FREESTYLE” and to me, it sounds like a song for a sad movie’s end credits, and a solid final track for an album. I think that the album has a few gems, but the majority of it just feels like filler material and I don’t see myself listening to it on a regular basis compared to Joji’s past material.