Joji haunts in melancholic transparency on ‘Glimpse of Us’

photo of joji single cover art
88rising Records/Warner Records Inc./Courtesy

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Grade: 5.0/5.0

It’s been too long.

Following his innovative work on his 2020 sophomore album Nectar, Joji makes a stunning return to music two years later. For fans, his latest single was surely worth the wait. Released June 10, “Glimpse of Us” is hauntingly beautiful, a ballad telling a wretched story of intertwining love and longing.

Where Nectar succeeds in synth elements and pacing rhythms seen in “Sanctuary” and “Pretty Boy, “Glimpse of Us” starkly contrasts with a stripped down, somber tone. Only supported by a humble piano harmony, Joji’s mesmerizing voice swells in a way that’s neither lacking nor overdone — he takes up the space tastefully. As he glides through poignant notes and complements the instrumental’s dynamic progressions, listeners undergo a sonic journey where only Joji knows the path.

“Glimpse of Us” unveils an ill-fated romance from Joji’s perspective. The track’s minimal yet impactful lyricism describes how in his new relationship, he finds himself seeking and discovering fragments of his previous lover in his current partner. In the chorus, the singer concedes to his tendencies: “ ‘Cause sometimes I look in her eyes/ And that’s where I find a glimpse of us.” He admits how no matter how perfect his partner is now, he cannot love her the way he loved his past one.

In the second verse, Joji spectulates if his previous partner feels the same way he does in her new relationship. He begs the incessant question in desperation, hoping by chance that she finds glimpses of him in people she encounters like he does for her. He hollowly ponders, “Maybe you’ll start slippin’ slowly and find me again.” Joji toggles between wondering if this is really the end, or perhaps there is something more.

The single’s focal point is undeniably the bridge between its emotive message and its unparalleled delivery. On his own, Joji is able to captivate his listeners, grasping their attention with both his raw musicianship and poeticism. Each soars in their own respect, with his ethereal falsettos coupled with tenderly bittersweet phrases. Soft yet painful, fragile yet destructive, Joji has mastered his craft of blending the woeful parts of desolation and heartbreak into a timeless tale.

To listeners’ surprise, the music video for “Glimpse of Us” depicts a plethora of blurred faces involved in scenes of disturbance and adversity. The footage is grimy and ominous, a crashing collection of chaos that ultimately misaligns with the track’s delicacy. But this appalling reality is one that Joji aims to marry to this song — in some way, they connect in their twisted, chilling natures. And it works.

Fittingly, “Glimpse of Us” subtly alludes to the version of Joji that fans remember from his “Slow Dancing in the Dark” days, exuding pure melancholic transparency. This new single conveys a familiar disarrayed mix of jealousy, frustration and misery Joji experiences as he navigates his current relationship. His profound heartache is drastic, and it is precisely this devastation that pierces listeners so deeply.

Without a doubt, Joji surpasses all the expectations awaiting his comeback with flying colors. “Glimpse of Us” is the product of Joji’s expertise on full, honest display, reaffirming his growing maturity and trajectory as a creator. In the simplest terms, Joji has done it again, and has done it oh-so-perfectly.

Contact Ashley Tsai at [email protected].