‘In Tongues’ EP review
By Joshua Toevs, Columnist
In Tongues is the debut EP from Joji, who is known for his comedic, musical alter ego, Pink Guy. Where Pink Guy is abrasive, brash, and comedic, Joji was created to allow for a more melodic and subdued approach to making music. Unfortunately, as a whole this album feels too boring and bland, and this attempt to make legitimate music comes off as very surface level.
On this album, Joji presents an avant-garde approach to lo-fi pop music. He uses his vocals as an extra layer to the instrumentals, allowing an entire song to be presented as one entity. There is definitely a James Blake vibe to the sound, as a lot of times the vocal tracks are mixed in a muffled or distorted way to detract from one part of the song being dominant over another.
There are a couple of good songs on this record, which lead to a bit of replayability. “Will He,” the lead single, is a strong contender for song of the year, for me personally. The song features a jazzy piano melody that gives flashbacks to certain instrumentals from the film La La Land. That piano piece is paired with a knocking 808 drum beat and trappy hi-hats that give a little bit of character to the instrumental. The song is about an ex-lover of Joji’s, and he ponders if her new love is as intimate with her as he was, or if the new flame will play music the way that Joji did for her. Joji juxtaposes this with the acknowledgment that he treated her poorly and that there are reasons as to why their relationship didn’t work out.
The song “Demons” is a decent track with its southern drums and a vocal sample that is chopped and screwed, giving the song a demonic feeling. The song is about Joji fighting his own demons and overcoming them, which leads to one of the better lyrical performances on the entire EP.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album ranges from boring to indifferent. The acoustic guitar on the closing track “Bitter Fuck” feels shoehorned in, while “Worldstar Money (Interlude),” includes a sample from the titular website that is annoying and skippable. This EP as a whole is a lyrical dark hole, with Joji not having much of anything to say throughout most of the tracks. His low vocal range on “Window” feels out of place with the rest of his vocal attempts and leads to a completely bland song.
Overall, the beautiful piano arrangements on each song and In Tongues as a whole will keep you checking in on more of Joji’s music as he shows an ability to make interesting songs. However, his lyrical content and vocal abilities need a lot of work and practice if he wants to become anything more than an afterthought in the lo-fi pop landscape.