Of Dreams and Doomed Love: A Review on Joji’s Smithereens


Maya Bose, Copy Editor

Joji’s latest album Smithereens utilizes dreamy synth paired with piano to convey themes of love and loss. In contrast to Joji’s last album, Nectar, with 18 songs, Smitheerens is comparatively shorter with only nine songs. The R&B and lo-fi album builds upon Joji’s 2018 hit single, “Slow Dancing In The Dark,” which hit 984 million streams on Spotify due to its emotionally-charged, relatable yet unreal lyrics. This song widely popularized Joji’s work, especially through social media and among younger generations.

“Glimpse Of Us,” the earliest-released track in Smithereens, maintains the same narrative of heartbreak and unrequited love as “Slow Dancing,” but focuses more on Joji’s angelic vocals and resembles a typical stripped piano ballad. This song quickly became viral on the social media platforms of Tik Tok and Instagram, inspiring trends and tears as people related the song to past failed relationships and lovers. The song now has 649 million streams on Spotify, standing out as one of Joji’s newest yet most popular songs.

The lyricism of the chorus of “Glimpse Of Us” was particularly praised: “Cause sometimes I look in her eyes / And that’s where I find a glimpse of us / And I try to fall for her touch / But I’m thinking of the way it was.” Joji’s great skill lies in the fact that he can master both gorgeous, soulful melodies and artistic, desolate lyrics. Other tracks in the album differ in the way they blend beats, synth, and vocals, but the overall tone of all the songs is unified and gives the album a purposeful feel. For instance, “Dissolve” employs heavy synth and electronic chords layered with auto-tuned vocals to create a remote feeling that questions the state of a broken relationship: “Who are we? / What have we become? / Are we chasing sheep / Until we dissolve?” Other popular songs from the album include “Die For You,” “Feeling Like The End,” and “Before The Day Is Over,” which, much like their titles suggest, lament over the tragic ending of a relationship.

In particular, “1 AM Freestyle” stands out for its emphasis on choir and harmony, relying upon dissonant chords and Joji’s breathtaking vocal range. This song, along with “Feeling Like The End,” is just shy of two minutes long–the stark despair of the songs is emphasized through their brief yet powerful playtime.

The magic in Smithereens is born from its dreamlike, disconnected atmosphere and its relatability of missing a lover conveyed in beautiful melodies. If you haven’t listened to the album yet, what are you waiting for?