SMITHEREENS is a Contemplative Masterpiece


Nathan Marusich

Smithereens is a deeply emotional album that encourages listeners to contemplate themselves and their relationships.

On November 3rd, rising R&B/Hip-hop artist, Joji, released his new album “SMITHEREENS”. Known for his unique melodies, experimental beats, and subtly powerful lyrics, Joji has proven time and time again that he belongs in the music industry that he has made his home.

Although it was a relatively short album of only nine tracks, the substance of the tracks was some of Joji’s best work. Separated into two disks that mark clear transitions in mood, the artistry goes beyond the songs themselves, displaying itself in a successful and well put together album.

Disk 1

Glimpse of Us
Glimpse of Us is the epitome of the tragic ballad. The song’s unique time signature allows for yet another of Joji’s distinctive chord progressions, setting the stage for a powerful song. The song tells the story of the writer trying to find old feelings in a new relationship, ultimately leading Joji’s thoughts back to his former partner. “Glimpse of Us” tackles the struggles of dealing with the loss of a relationship as well as moving on. The beautiful chaos attained through both the lyrics and instrumentals of the song allows for the listener to relate to Joji’s emotion. Despite its power, I disagree with the placement of the track at the beginning of the album due to the slow tempo. Regardless, this is one of my favorites on the album.

Feeling Like The End
Only 18 bars of lyrics and the shortest on the album, Feeling Like The End was definitely written to showcase a beat. A relaxed style encompassed by a hip-hop beat sets up for likable potential. However this song did not live up to that expectation for me. The chorus felt slightly bland, and although the verse had a creative cadence, the lyrics gave off cliché break-up song vibes. This one was a miss for me.

Die For You
Listening to this song makes me feel like I am literally floating. The overall tone of the instrumentals gives off a playful and colorful vibe that contrasts beautifully with the sad lyrics. Although this song in a lot of ways reminds me of “Glimpse of Us,” there seems to be a glimmer of hopefulness and positivity. The vocals on this song are the best on the album giving the lyrics all the more substance and impact. Joji initially talks about his struggle with the loss of a relationship but then transitions into expressing best wishes for his former partner in the chorus. This is easily my favorite song on the album.

Before The Day Is Over
The trend of sad songs related to a relationship continues on the fourth tack of the album. Although this song is technically simpler to the majority of the songs on the album, it doesn’t detract from the aura of the instrumentals or lyrics. The lyrics delve into Joji’s attempt to preserve a collapsing relationship. “Say something soon, we might lose it all” is one of his subtly powerful lyrics he uses so often to paint the picture of what he is experiencing. This song is not one of my favorites on the album as a stand alone, although I think it plays into the feel of the disk very well.

“Dissolve” opens with an acoustic guitar, slightly surprising given the instrumental use through the previous songs. The lyrics describe how Joji feels like he is ignored by someone he cares about. The line “I know I haven’t turned the corner. Please don’t leave me behind. Who the hell am I to think that you’re my angel from above,” sums up beautifully the lack of emotional reciprocation he is experiencing. I think this song on its own is very powerful, but like the last track fits very well in the mood of the album, and ends Disk 1 perfectly.

Disk 2

This song is a great way to start off the second disk. The clear contrast from the songs on the disk brings a new mood to the album and offers a style that Joji excels at. The name fits the song; it has a dark, moving beat that really sets the tone for the remainder of the album.

Despite the name, this is not a song to gloss over. Creative lyrics and melodies fit the initial beat, leading up to a switch up that is easily the most creative of the album. This song gives such a relaxing feel and is surprisingly well put together for a demo.

This song has by far the best instrumentals of any track on this album. The layering of tracks and the catchy beat blends into one of the most creative tracks on the album. The production of the track is extremely artistic, showcasing rhythmic stutters as well as having the sound come in and out rapidly on certain parts. He also puts in another drum beat switch up, just making this song an absolute vibe.

This is the best song to end the album, starting off with an emotional piano leading to a beat drop and coming back down to the piano. Joji’s signature layering of his vocals is the perfect way to wrap up the song. He describes how he is tired of feeling the same feelings that he described in much of Disk 1. Though not my favorite song on its own, “1AM FREESTYLE” is a perfect finale to a masterpiece of an album.