Lyrics that tear you to “SMITHEREENS”

Joji’s third studio album “SMITHEREENS” is heartfelt, with a mix of emotional ballads and up-beat tunes.


Japanese R&B singer/songwriter, George Miller, professionally known as Joji and formerly as Filthy Frank, released his third studio album on Nov. 4, titled “SMITHEREENS.” Running for about 25 minutes, the nine tracks carry beautiful ballads with intently crafted lyrics that all listeners can relate to. I have repeatedly played this album for the past week and can’t get enough. It is the perfect soundtrack for daily life, like getting ready, driving, studying or relaxing.

Joji’s previous album, “Nectar” (2020), has notable songs such as “Gimme Love,” which hit number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. While “Nectar” did gain some acclaim, the popularity of “SMITHEREENS” has already topped that album and quickly garnered praise for its melodic tone and relaxed feel. 

The album’s starting track and first single, “Glimpse of Us,” gained global popularity when it was first released. Having over 600 million Spotify streams, over one million TikTok videos set to the song and peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Top 100, it is safe to say this song is receiving a lot of attention and love from many. Heartfelt lyrics peer into the psyche of someone conflicted by a complex relationship. Lyrics such as, “Why, when she is so perfect, do I wish it was you?” The perspective of this song is clearly someone who knows his current relationship is good but can’t help looking back on his previous partner, missing them, and wondering, “What if?”

If you love “Glimpse of Us,” you may be disappointed to learn that the rest of the songs on the album do not carry the same restless energy. Listening to this whole album, you notice how the first released single is the outlier to a relaxing collection of less emotional songs, each with a different story.

While “Glimpse of Us” is an emotional ballad, the second track, “Feeling Like the End,” is more upbeat with less somber lyrics. The contrast between these two songs at the beginning of the album draws you in and prepares you for the gamut of emotions that Joji’s lyrics evoke.

“I heard that you’re happy without me, and I hope it’s true. It kills me a little, but that’s okay. I’d still die for you,” is a line from track three, titled “Die For You.” Joji’s lyrics pack a punch and carry a relatable message that hits home when combined with the drum-heavy, indie-pop tune. Joji perfectly encompasses what it feels like to miss and wish the best for an old partner, all within a musical production that could be classified as perfection. This song was a favorite from my first listen, making me want to sing and dance along. 

The upbeat, feel-good tune of “YUKON (INTERLUDE),” track number 8, compels listeners to dance along while also contemplating the raw lyrics like “I overflow like mercury, glowing with uncertainty.” The contrast between the vulnerable lyrics and the cheery tune creates an interesting, complex song that fans will want to listen to repeatedly. This track holds more influences of his past work but with the maturity of this most recent album.  “YUKON” was a personal favorite because it evokes images of rainy days with its trance-like melody and somber vocals. I imagine myself driving down a rainy highway or sitting alone in a library while it storms outside. 

“1AM FREESTYLE” finishes the album, and its combination of a choir and piano gives a dark, haunted feel. This song also lacks a traditional structure. Instead of an intro, chorus, then bridge, this song creates its own path by starting with the chorus and moving to the verse in a way that is interesting and thought-provoking for listeners. When I first listened to “1AM FREESTYLE,” I felt it was disconnected from the rest of the album because it didn’t have a clear story. However, the more I listened to it, the more I left like the disjointed structure was part of the story of loss, loneliness and isolation he was trying to tell.  The complex arrangement of the song is part of what makes it so compelling, and it has quickly become one of my favorites on the album.

This album is laid-back and is perfect for beach days or late-night drives. “SMITHEREENS” is one of those rare albums you can listen to all the way through without reaching for the skip button. I highly recommend streaming Joji’s latest next time you are on the hunt for new music.