If you’re trying to “DECIDE” what to listen to next, take a listen to Joe Keery’s new album


Joe Keery released his sophomore album “Decide” on Sept. 16, under the moniker Djo.

Macie Batson, Senior Staff Writer

“Stranger Things” icon Joe Keery released his second album, “DECIDE,” on Sept. 16 under his stage persona Djo, and it is one of the most musically genius albums I’ve ever heard. 

“DECIDE” explores Keery’s struggles with change as a person and as an artist, as well as him adjusting to a social media-based culture, through a distinct blend of psychedelic indie and 80s new-wave that perfectly melts together.

In an interview with W Magazine, Keery says that his persona as Djo, famous for his ridiculous 70s bowl cut wig and big sunglasses, was created to allow consumers to experience his music without being put off by the fact that he is an actor.

“Originally, it was to distract from the other stuff I’m known for. It was a way to disassociate the music from that and try to allow people to listen to it with an open mind, and what it’s evolved into is this character,” he said. “It’s changing and shifting as the project goes on.”

Listening to Keery’s first album “Twenty-Twenty,” I had no clue I was listening to my favorite “Stranger Things” character, but after learning about his attempt to entirely separate his music from his acting, I think he’s done a phenomenal job. He’s worked hard to prove that he’s more than Steve Harrington, and “DECIDE” helps him secure his place in the music industry.

“DECIDE” reveals that Keery put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make this album come together as a cohesive project. I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since it came out; the album’s groovy vintage vibe has me finding something genius in every song, and thus no song needs to be skipped.

The album’s first song, “Runner,” kicks things off with a bang. The song establishes the mood for the remainder of the album, with a steady build of synth and memorable lyrics like, “people never change, but I have to try.” I’ve always loved 80s music, and this song’s nostalgic feel, mixed with Keery’s ability to experiment with diverse sounds, has left me feeling like I’ve traveled back in time.

I was astonished when I first heard the second track “Gloom,” which evolved into one of my all-time favorite songs. I wasn’t expecting it to be so upbeat and funky, with amusing lyrics like Keery needing to walk his dog that give us a glimpse into his thoughts. I don’t think I’ll ever get over this one.

With songs like “On and On,” which is about his experiences with endless scrolling on social media, and another favorite of mine “End of Beginning,” the album gives us a look into Keery’s emotions on leaving Chicago when he was 24 years old. We can start to see the internal monologue play more into his lyrics.

The smooth vocals, which are unlike anything we’ve heard from Keery’s prior work, as well as the numerous retro tech beats, will certainly appeal to any fan of 80s music, as well as “Stranger Things” fans as they await season 5. The songs on this album have a way of striking a chord with many listeners today, as we all struggle with change and the emotions that come with it.

Keery’s musical abilities have grown since his debut album, and he has the potential to carry his music even further than an actor might anticipate. His knack for 80s psychedelia and rock, and lyrics that beg to be memorized, sets him apart from anything being done in today’s mainstream music.