Released: 16th September 2022
Joe Keery (AKA King Steve “The Hair” Harrington) operates under the smartly ambiguous pseudonym of Djo for his musical pursuits. Whatever you call him, the multi-faceted artist has displayed some real growth since his last musical outing in 2019, and, following busy years of relentless success, the key theme that grounds his new album ‘Decide’ is one of change.
This may seem blindingly obvious from the pulsating lead single of that very name, but Djo twists this conceptually simplistic idea into 13 mesmerisingly textured, sonically bold and completely addictive tracks. The luxuriously groovy chorus of ‘Half Life’ reveals an introspective view on the ego that fame can instil, ‘On and On’ uses explosive drum fills to mirror the confusion caused by endless scrolling, and the enchanting and vulnerable ‘End Of Beginning’ finds him dissociating from the reinvention of his own identity.
On the latter of these examples, glittering synth notes sparkle around an intimate vocal, portraying uncertain emotions over multiple layers – this is something he had a great first stab at on debut LP ‘Twenty Twenty’ but, now freed further from the foundations of natural instrumentation, a sonically instinctual leaning allows Djo to soar. The dynamics of past hits like ‘Roddy’ are enhanced with twists and turns coming in hot, while the screeching guitars of ‘Flash Mountain’ are cut back in favour of growling bass riffs and invigorating synth beats.
This is no vanity project; Joe Keery has produced one of the most irresistible alt-pop records of the year. ‘Decide’ is wholly cohesive with an inflamed flair for dreamlike world-building through ambitious production, with too many individual highlights to list. The fun that he consistently prioritises is portrayed potently, but he also touches on some notably brooding themes. As a result, the record is thrillingly artistic while maintaining an alluring accessibility that makes it hard to stop listening.