If you want to witness the second coming of another Childish Gambino, look no further. Better known by his YouTube personality Filthy Frank, George Miller released his first EP, In Tongues, last Friday. It’s a short, six track production that is on the opposite end of the spectrum of direction compared to his more dirty, obnoxious work under Pink Guy. And now that Miller has solidified himself as one of the most popular and over-the-top personalities in YouTube history, he’s now headed in a more serious direction. And to be blunt, it’s not that spectacular so far.
For his first professional work released on all major streaming service platforms, In Tongues is not bad at all. In fact, it’s pretty decent. The direction of the EP is dark and depressing; Joji is really speaking from his heart here. This kind of EP isn’t one that you’d listen to on a sunny afternoon. It regards heartbreak, regret and the inner turmoil of YouTube’s most bizarre personality. This side of George Miller is something that a lot of us have never seen, like, ever.
The first track on the EP, “Will He,” dropped about a few weeks earlier than the rest, and like every other song on here, has an extremely somber, slow tone that really reflects Joji’s entire discography. A soft, lingering piano is sampled as the main melody. A lo-fi trap-esque beat repeats as Joji sings “I don’t need to know/ I just wanna make sure you’re all safe/ All safe, all safe,” signifying that he just wants what is best for his ex — but only without knowing how much better she is with another guy. And while this is heartbreaking and emotional, the actual question of whether this track sounds good or not is still uncertain for me.
If you listen to Joji’s older songs like “you suck charlie” or “Thom,” there’s a clear difference when compared to the EP. The melodies are catchier, the samples are more intricate, and Joji seems a lot more passionate about the song’s direction as a whole — even though the subject matter is just as sad. On “you suck charlie,” Joji meticulously samples the most musical-frisson inducing piano off of “Christmastime is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio and lays it on a commanding drum beat. But it’s not just the beat and the melody that makes these two tracks stellar. It’s Joji’s creative use of other, miscellaneous samples. On “Thom,” Joji literally samples a buzzing phone, Ariana Grande, the howling of wind and spare change falling. And these additions don’t deter how the song makes you feel. It only makes it that much more appealing.
And this is partly why so much hype was amounted in the first place. Joji’s earlier releases seemed to have more originality and effort put into them. This isn’t to say that In Tongues is completely devoid of creativity; there are moments of mellow greatness on tracks like “Demons” and “worldstar money (interlude).” But the rest of the EP sounds more like one big song, some sounding too similar to the other.
In the same vein how Childish Gambino started out with “Camp,” Joji can really go up from here. In Tongues isn’t by any means bad or unpleasant. It’s just kind of forgettable.