SMITHEREENS, by Joji. Released November 4, 2022.

Colton Hawkins, Staff Writer

Joji’s newest “album” SMITHEREENS has been out for around three months now. This has given me plenty of time to sit and digest the “album” to give my complete thoughts on it — so let me give you some perspective. It was around a two-year wait between his previous work Nectar and now SMITHEREENS. With barely a lick of new music between then and now, fans were really hoping that SMITHEREENS would be a masterpiece. I mean with only nine tracks it has to be a quality-over-quantity situation opposite to Nectar, right? Let’s see if it lived up to the hype.


The “album” has an insanely strong start with Glimpse of Us.  It is one of the most emotional and touching songs in years. The piano is so simple yet somber, which is what makes it great. It allows the track to focus on the lyrics. The lyrics are heart-wrenching with some of Joji’s best vocal delivery to date. This song is so genuinely beautiful and packs such an emotional punch to boot.


Feeling Like The End is an interesting track for sure. It embraces Joji’s older nature with a more trap-like sound. The flow is very good and it also kind of has a more poppy feel similar to some Nectar tracks. The only drawback is that this song feels super short, which makes it feel incomplete and filler-like. It would have helped to give it a longer runtime. Also, it’s strange to open the project up on the emotionally devastating Glimpse of Us, then move on to more poppy and rap-like tracks for the rest of the duration of SMITHEREENS.


Die For You is very much classic Joji. Joji with his emotional tracks very simple. Die For You is a good example. The beat is very simple but has an almost dream-like or ethereal feel to it. But it also strangely invokes this sense of nostalgia. The lyrics are also quite good with some strong vocals and unique lyrics. 


Before The Day Is Over is kind of a mixed bag. The lyrics are very strong, making callbacks to Sanctuary. It also with that once again ethereal and heavenly feel to Joji’s voice. Yet the track overall feels very poppy and generic. The bridge towards the end of the song is very strong.


Dissolve is a very uninteresting and bland-sounding track. It just feels like blatant filler on an already short “album.” It also has that incomplete feeling that track two had — only this time it sounds and feels more prominent. The writing is weak and there is this awful auto-tune over the whole track. The song feels like it is building and then just abruptly ends. Honestly, this feels like a much worse version of worldstar money.


Nightrider is the start of disc two. It seems very strange that a nine-track 24-minute-long “album” has two discs. This track feels like two tracks mixed into one and honestly, that makes it just ok. It feels like a cross between his Pink Season era and Chloe Burbank era. The lyrics and vocals feel like old Joji. More experimental rap rather than dreamy. But the background “ba ba ba ba” and “I’m too precious” feel more like Pink Guy seeping into this track. Both would have been good choices on their own but mixing them together ruins the track.


BLAHBLAHBLAH DEMO is yet another incomplete-sounding track. It is between this and Dissolve for my least favorite track. Hell, both might be some of the worst of his discography. The writing is nothing to write home about. The beat feels generic and incomplete. This actually sounds like a demo. It also has this terrible beat switch up near the end which does not help save it. Really awful to put a demo on your fourth studio “album.”


YUKON (INTERLUDE) is a track I enjoy. It is certainly not his best work, but it’s still enjoyable. For sure in my top five of his more upbeat tracks. The rhythm is strong and feels a lot like ATTENTION off of BALLADS 1. The lyrics invoke that feeling of wandering around. Feels like a late-night drive track which is the vibe of the album in my opinion. For sure the second-best to give that vibe right behind Die For You. The song overall is pretty decent. But why is there an interlude after a demo on a nine-track “album?” It just feels kind of trying to be unique for the sake of being unique. I mean this interlude is more complete than tracks two, five, and seven. So why is it called an interlude?


1AM FREESTYLE is enjoyable. It also suffers from the incomplete feel as this track could be way stronger if it was longer. Also, why does a “Freestyle” have nine writers? The song is so short and around half of it there are no vocals. Why are there so many writers for a super short, minimal lyric, and freestyle song? Having nine people on a two-minute track is insane. As I said, the song is good, it just suffers from being short. I feel if it was fleshed out it could be a really good Joji track. I am baffled by how many people worked on this so-called “Freestyle.”


So what are we left with at the end of this “album?” We have two really great tracks in tracks 1 and 3. With Glimpse of Us, we have one of the best pieces of music in recent memory. We have two above-average songs in tracks 8 and 9. Two just ok songs which contain tracks 2, 4, and 6. Then 5 and 7 just feel super incomplete and absolutely have me flabbergasted as to why they are on someone’s fourth project. 


Now, let’s discuss. Why do I keep saying “album” in quotes? It is because a nine-track and 24-minute-long release after two years is truly a little disappointing, to say the least. It would have been okay if every track was a banger to make up for the short tracklist and length, but the issue is that there is a lot of filler. It did not meet that quality over quantity expectation. Something that short should be expected to have super high quality. Then on top of that when only two of the tracks are superb. Two more sound good but is still not Joji bringing his A-game. The rest are either not memorable or just incomplete. 

So yeah. Safe to say as much as I love Joji, SMITHEREENS is a disappointment. I think some of the weaker tracks have a lot of potential, but they just need to be longer or more fleshed out. This “album” feels half-baked. If 88Rising wanted to keep the album tag, they should have just let Joji have more time in the kitchen and maybe rearrange the track order. Even better, perhaps split this album like In Tongues — have the more complete tracks be one release, then release the ones that needed more time at a later date with a deluxe release. Another option would have to just release the good tracks as an EP and call it a day. Hell, there are so many unreleased Joji pieces that if slotted in would have made a beautiful piece of the arrangement. After waiting two years, this was a gut punch. I look forward to his next release and hope it will be better next time around.