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Melancholy, maturity: Joji's latest album 'Nectar'

"Nectar" is the latest album by Youtube-sensation-turned-full-time musician Joji. His music explores themes of heartbreak and intimacy.  – Photo by Twitter

Joji is one of the most interesting musicians to break out in the past few years. His transition from internet comedian to rising sensation has made him a fascinating person to witness sonically.

His string of rhythm and blues (R&B) laced with pop ballads allows him to be an emotional and moody artist, while his constant change in pace makes him interesting to follow. Joji's newest album "Nectar" is an excellent representation of his growth as an artist and a great follow-up to his previous work.

Joji’s last album, "Ballads 1," was a start of an exploration, and he truly blossomed into himself. Songs like “YEAH RIGHT” and “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK” certified his style as a modern crooner with a greater sense of feel, and his different production choices added variety instead of simply emphasizing certain parts.

While the production value of "Ballads 1" was not up to par with most commercial albums, it showed Joji had a unique style that much of his fans could appreciate.

This trend continues on "Nectar" but with a grander pace and feel. “Mr. Hollywood” is an R&B song with production from Kenny Beats, and this collaboration shows the influence of both artists in a concise way.

While Beats usually specializes in rap music, he was able to make "Mr. Hollywood" much more upbeat and varied in comparison to most of Joji’s other songs. Many of the songs on "Nectar" utilize strings to generate a mood, which is effective most of the time and creates a feeling of grandioseness. 

“Gimme Love” and “Run” features a very grand string section that rises and swells as the song progresses. This sense of tension and release it creates come in sync with the climax of the song, and these production choices show the importance of outside collaboration. “Daylight” featuring Dijon is an excellent song and both artists feel like they stamp their individual identities onto it. 

"Nectar" thematically expands on topics of heartbreak and intimacy, which has become a statement in most of Joji’s music. His lyrical content focuses on loneliness and isolation, and he encapsulates his feeling very well.

“Quietly still / In a lie / Oh, goodnight / I don’t mind,” he sings on “Ew,” which very effectively sets the tone of the album. While his lyrics tend to stay consistent topic-wise, effects on his vocals like autotune and delay help emphasize certain sections of a song. 

The album's main faults are in its length and direction of its tracks as a whole. The album lacks a cohesive sound from song to song, and songs like "NITROUS" and "Upgrade" tend to feel unfinished and flat in comparison to some of the more upbeat songs on the album.

Too many songs on "Nectar" feel like interludes instead of actual songs. While interludes are great in creating an atmosphere for an album, too many of them create a dissonance in the story being told by the album. With a cut-down tracklist and greater focus on a cohesive sound, Joji’s sound still has room for improvement and growth. 

When it comes to Joji, it is difficult to separate the past from the present. Many of his fans were surprised when he quit the Filthy Frank and Pink Guy moniker on Youtube and started releasing music full-time.

"Nectar" is a testament to Joji’s maturity and musical growth and collaborations with the likes of Yves Tumor and Omar Apollo prove how far he has come in such a short time.

Joji is proof of the power of changing your image to fit your liking and having an accepting and successful response. "Nectar" is a solid addition to Joji’s discography and illustrates his artistic progress and importance in the R&B and lo-fi genre. 

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