Djo’s newest album “DECIDE” navigates maturing in a digital age

Djo’s sophomore album “DECIDE” explores themes of fame and nostalgia through 80’s synth pop.

Fashion Castillo-Delgadillo, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Djo released his sophomore album titled “DECIDE” on Sept. 16th with a timeless exploration of nostalgia and young adulthood. Under the persona of Djo, Joe Keery, the beloved Stranger Things actor, made a return to social media to publicize the release of his second album after completely deactivating his accounts in May 2021. 

PRESSURE OF THE MEDIA

The album comments on the disadvantages of living in a digital world. In “Runner,” Keery uses the hook “love and hate decide” to talk about how social media rewards emotional extremes. The song starts off simple but adds layers of complexity, developing a theme of growth and change that translates to the rest of the album. 

Djo incorporates existential elements into his album and highlights free will to emphasize social media’s control. In “Half Life,” Keery speaks about his innate curiosity to know what is said about him online. The entire song is a reminder to keep his ego in check and remain indifferent to the people who claim to know him, stating, “God, you’re a fool / You think these people really care for you?

While “Half Life” focuses on not letting the media govern his life, “Fool” utilizes the image of a jester to explain how he cannot help but crave recognition. The chorus of the song repeats, “I will be your Fool / I’ll perform for you / Just tell me what to do.” The two songs reveal a conflicting and relatable pressure: to remain indifferent to judgment while staying relevant in the digital atmosphere. 

The heavily repetitive and somewhat psychedelic track “On and On” talks about the unsustainable lifestyle of content creation and how media consumption leads to anxiety and addiction. The production of the track promotes breaking the cycle of the social media algorithm with an aggressive build up and sudden stillness that leads into the final chorus of the song. 

SUCCESS AND MATURITY

Djo also explores notions of change and moving forward in “DECIDE” as seen in tracks such as “Gloom,” “End of Beginning,” “Change” and “Slither.” “Gloom” and “Change” were both released as singles to set the tone of the album with elements of 80’s synth-pop. 

“End of Beginning” references Keery’s time spent in Chicago as a member of the band Post Animal until 2019. The track notes that every new beginning stems from the end of another experience. In the chorus, Keery sings, “Another version of me, I was in it / I wave goodbye to the end of beginning.”

The final track of the album, “Slither,” discusses managing newfound success. The repetition throughout the song creates a mechanical feeling of commercialized success and builds up pressure to maintain a perfect image.

Djo’s long-awaited album has many distinct messages but leaves tracks such as “I Want Your Video” and “Is That All It Takes” open for his fans to interpret. Keery’s creative lyricism and exploration of musical boundaries lead to a timeless album, navigating the journey of a young adult maturing in a digital age. 

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