REVIEW: Joesef – ‘Permanent Damage’

Kitty Houston discusses her love for the latest record by Glasgow-based musician, Joesef…

For the last four years, Joesef has built his reputation as one of the most exciting young talents in the UK pop scene. Following several highly successful EPs that introduced his willingness to explore difficult themes through lucid pop hymns, Permanent Damage has been a highly anticipated album for fans of the Glaswegian artist.  

(Photo from Spotify)

This coming-of-age debut album is an art piece painted with tears following a painful breakup and is a sort of polyphonic therapy for Joesef. The record elegantly covers the complex topics of despair and self-worth through raw lyricism, which is almost overwhelming. However, it is balanced by a captivating sound that makes his tangled perspectives feel relatable. Early highlight It’s Been a Little Heavy Lately is reminiscent of the neo-soul grooves that brought Joesef his fame and covers the internal battle between love and lust.  

Just Come Home with Me Tonight plucks at the heart strings, capturing Joesef’s crushing desire for love, even if it is just for one night. The track is one of many that forces listeners to feel his heartache. Similarly, Borderline is unfiltered in its lyricism, explicitly highlighting some of the writer’s darkest times following the breakup, which results in his most vulnerable track to date. Listening to this song almost feels like self-sabotage. It quickly affects the listener’s every emotion, so captivating are his honest words and stunning synths; it is beautifully, emotionally devastating.  

(Photo from The Daily Record)

The album’s most standout track, Joe, is 4 minutes of utter bliss. Joe builds upon upbeat drums and a subtle acoustic guitar to recall the intensity of teenage romance. The euphoria that comes with this track reflects on the intensity of love and the amount of power it possesses; love can so quickly make you lose sight of who you are as you become wholly codependent within the relationship, unable to look at yourself without seeing them. His vocals are filled with great verve, creating a real sense of passionate sentiment, and the sonically overwhelming sound creates a magical experience. It’s a track that will likely stay with you long after it has finished.  

Joesef has an innate ability to take the brutal and turn it into something beautiful. Permanent Damage shows this ability to the highest degree by making his inner battles feel somewhat relatable. The spellbinding sound alongside moving lyrics makes it an album perfect for dancing away your demons with tears in your eyes and laughter on your lips.  

4/5 stars 

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