Saturday, December 19th, 2020

Justine Darcenne – Off Days

If you’ve been having enough off days that it’s easier just to note the on days, we feel you.


Iain Mew: Justine Darcenne’s voice is lovely, and she gets across both the hard work and reward in working on herself in a way which has me rooting for her right from the beginning. The song starts with that voice pushed right to the fore up close, and it’s both the best part and one that makes it hard for a fussy arrangement to progress anywhere.

Thomas Inskeep: Pleasant-enough folk-soul that doesn’t grab me; her voice is a little too bland, the song a little too dull (and the production a little too nothing).

Austin Nguyen: There are shards of myself in this song that I’d rather forget: In middle school, I hid behind fandom t-shirts and Halsey x Melanie Martinez x Twenty One Pilots x Troye Sivan mash-ups to cover up my internalized homophobia and self-loathing / I learned how to erase myself; how can you smear something that no longer exists? / There was no umbrella when the rain came / I started to love the feeling of rain-soaked jeans, the way water clings to denim and thighs as if to say: Can I stay here, just a bit longer? / Freshman year of high school, I went to the mountains for a choir retreat, and all I listened to every morning was Kehlani while watching the sunrise alone at 7AM / The summer before sophomore year, I had to take a course in psychology / I thought my professor’s advice on self-growth was trite / He said: I say this because you never know who might need to hear it. / What’s a dream college? What’s a dream? / I still don’t know if this is the right choice: This school, this major / But there was someone who recently asked me what I learned from fall quarter, and I thought: To be gentle with myself / I no longer need the rain to feel less lonely / I don’t know how, but I don’t remember the last time my smile was faked. It’s a simple feeling, one you don’t always grasp when it starts until you look back and see it: How far you’ve come in accepting yourself and realizing the fact that there’s always more time to grow, to see the sunlight filtering through those guitar and violin strings. Which is what “Off Days” feels like — nursing past habits of self-hatred to “healing,” a breather to appreciate any small amount of progress — and, hey, if you’re going to choose a cliché, “Bright” and “sway” isn’t such a bad place to start.

Juana Giaimo: Justine Darcenne has a beautiful voice, with a flow that can smoothly go from the rap-sung verses to the delicate high notes of the chorus to the deepness of the bridge. Although I like the stripped-down production, I find it a little bit generic (the violins in the bridge especially sound quite cheesy) and I wished she was joined by stronger arrangements.

Crystal Leww: This is so stripped back with only Darcenne’s voice, an acoustic guitar, and what sounds like a cajon and a tambourine. Maybe that is the point, but it’s hard to not wonder how much more lively Darcenne’s voice would sound with some more fleshed out production and some harmonies. 

Tim de Reuse: Statements like “I’m still working hard at loving every part of me” are unpoetic to the point of poignancy. It can’t really be dressed up with metaphor or clever rhymes without losing its impact, and so it works in the song’s favor that it lets most of its sentiments lie bare, often not bothering to rhyme them at all. I mean, we’ve all had a year of off-days, haven’t we? Nice to think that we weren’t just wasting our time.

Edward Okulicz: Thinking about this song not just in the context of a rotten 2020, but also in the context of a week where Jukebox writers are trying to bowl each other over with their favourites does this song lots of favours. It’s gentle, self-affirming and lovely, and not interested in bowling anything over. If the verses blur a little, the simply-put chorus is like a warm bath and a massage. Nice voice, too, but the spare song could have used a looser, perhaps bigger arrangement. But the time is right for it for now anyway. 

Nortey Dowuona: A gentle, thumbed guitar follows Justine’s soft, delicate voice then spins and twirls as Justine pivots, then a gentle dust of percussion and whirlpools of bass follow, then pivot after Justine and the guitar, with Justine wandering into a gentle ripple of percussion as soft, soothing strings and the fumbling percussion follows as the guitar and bass go around, pulling back the percussion fronds to reveal Justine’s voice, resplendent as the bass and percussion wander away, leaving Justine with the guitar by her side.

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2 Responses to “Justine Darcenne – Off Days”

  1. aw, i meant to write this up and woulda given it a 7/8. It’s very good.

  2. YALL DID THAT! I’m so proud of u all

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