Joe Keery, most well-known for his work as Steve in Stranger Things, has dropped his sophomore album Decide under the moniker DJO, which sounds like an electronic impersonation of Dayglow with twangs of Magdalena Bay, and is certainly a derivation from the sound established in his debut Twenty Twenty. Having thoroughly enjoyed Twenty Twenty, this knocks Decide down a peg.
Rolling with the positives, “Change”—one of this project’s four pre-release singles—is confidently charged. Keery’s vocals sail proudly alongside one of the more poppy and rhythmic electronica beats. This track is probably the most reminiscent of Twenty Twenty.
The eleventh track is the diamond in the rough and well worth the wait. This track harnesses Keery’s take on what his ideal Stranger Things track would sound like. Predicting the future, I’m watching the conclusion of Season Five listening to “Go For It” playing in the next catastrophic clash between Eleven and Vecna. Keery knocked this one out of the park instrumentally, and his vocals elevate this one to—ironically—eleven.
While this lyrical-instrumental symbiosis is palpable during brief blips throughout Decide, the examples are far and few. Many tracks feel intoxicatingly unique to the point of suffocation or too derivative of some indie-pop juggernauts currently dominating the scene. For one reason or another, many of these tracks fall flat, including the bite-sized “Fool” or the laid back “On and On” that seems to drone… on and on.
Along with “Change” and “Go For It”, other standouts include “Figure You Out” and “Slither”, all of which fall on the back side of this project. An EP including these four songs would have been enough, although Keery’s attempt on the first half of the album is respectable.
Am I going to revisit this project as a whole? Most likely not, but those four songs from the back end are easily among the best from the year. I’ll be jamming to these for the foreseeable future.
Decide is out now.