You probably know Joe Keery as the teenage heart-throb Steve Harrington from the popular Netflix show: ‘Stranger Things’. Little did most fans know, Joe would grow a mustache and drop the first single ‘roddy’ back in August. A slightly experimental song with lazy guitars, and synth pianos over a simple bass and concert-style drum kit. But this was far from Joe’s first stab at the music scene. Before ‘Stranger Things’ Keery was a member of the band: ‘Post Animal’. Slightly down the same vein with more synth-psychedelic pop vibes. However, under the new title Djo, there is an element of funk, that was never brought to ‘Post Animal’ records.
The album begins with ‘Showtime’. The song is almost a mockery of the typical musician taking a hit from ‘devil’s lettuce’ before running onto the stage. There is an interesting precedence where you don’t know if Djo is trying to take himself less serious to fit in with the crowd that ‘doesn’t care’, or that he is anxious enough to the point where he needs to take the edge off. I guess that’s what made me so interested to listen to the rest of the album.
The next track ‘Personal Lies’ is definitely the track that I believe most people will remember. Catchy guitar riffs, and a grandiose sound to build the base for the rest of the album. To me, this was Joe saying “Hey, this is a big f**king deal”. And it’s a bit ironic considering some of the lyrics in this song. For example: ‘Fake aggravation is your way to be seen/Use some in every single muscle on the team’ seems to be a direct comment on shock culture from today’s society. And I think that was kind of the point. This makes me think Joe is one of those ‘higher intellectual’ fellas. Someone you would talk to under the influence and have a deep socio-political-philosophical conversation about and come away with your mind feeling like it got a good work out.
The rest of the album explores the recent fad of ‘talk-singing’ style that is becoming more prevalent in some music. Yet it doesn’t try to achieve the ‘I can’t sing’ or the ‘this is how I rap’ attitude, but as a medium where he is telling it to you straight. No bullshit. And a little bit sassy. And again I was okay with that.
There were other purposefully memorable tunes like ‘Tentpole Shangrila’ & ‘Chateau (Feel Alright)’ which elude to alliteration that initially sounds contradictory but weirdly slick. But the back half of the album still delivered. Flash Mountain a wonderful finish. Lots of experimental psychedelic rock, and is what I imagine Joe saying that ‘Itis what you want it to be’.
To conclude, my earholes were happy. I didn’t feel like it was two songs too long, and there was just enough going on in the lyrics to make me think about it. This will probably be one of my favorite albums of the year for sure. One thing is for sure, Joe still is a central member of the ‘Stranger Things’ squad, but I’m also glad that Joe is trying to be more than just the boy from Hawkins Indiana.