Almost two years removed from his debut album, Joji has returned with his sophomore effort titled Nectar. In between projects, fans received little musical content from the artist as he only appeared on a handful of songs from his label’s compilation album, Head in the Clouds II. However, his album rollout started early in June of 2019, with his single “Sanctuary”, and carried on with three more singles, until his eighteen-track project was released at the tail end of September 2020.
Like his previous project, Ballads 1, Joji bases most of the songs in either an R&B or Pop genre but mixes them with other genres, namely hip-hop, through their production. Most evident in “Pretty Boy”, featuring Lil Yatchy, Joji sings for his entire portion of the song while a feel-good trap beat backs his performance. In general, many of the songs have trap elements in their instrumental – common with a lot of music today across all genres – yet he is still able to stand out somehow. His vocal performance is as good as ever, if not better, and is one of the high points on the whole album. Joji’s vocal inflection is incredible to listen to as he is able to sing in a relatively monotone voice and quickly change it to something energetic throughout a track, as seen on “Run”.
For the overall lyrical content, the Japanese singer touches on topics mainly revolving around love and heartbreak but also his struggle in the limelight and other issues, similar to his past work. Back on the production side, this may easily be the best part of the whole album as each song is backed by a complex and creative instrumental. On some of the songs, Joji allows the beat to develop for a good portion of the track and delivers his vocals in a way so that they do not distract from the overall production. Even on songs where he is pouring his heart out, the instrumentals match the energy delivered and take the overall vibe to another level.
Feature-wise, the album is not stacked with many performers, but those who were enlisted for the project do relatively well in their roles. The biggest name present is arguably Atlanta rapper Lil Yatchy who appeared on “Pretty Boy”, as mentioned before, and even though he does not bring anything too special to the song, it’s still an enjoyable listen. To be honest though, the two features on the tracklist that excited me the most were newcomers BENEE and Omar Apollo. BENEE, coming off her major hit “Supalonely”, shared the track “Afterthought” with Joji and, together, both artists conjured up a melancholy yet very relatable work of art.
Similarly, Omar delivered a verse on “High Hopes”, a song about an unstable romantic relationship, and fit perfectly on the ballad. Several acclaimed producers also lent their talent towards the development of Nectar. Diplo, Kenny Beats, and Clams Casino all appear in the album credits for their efforts towards certain tracks, all of which stand out from the rest. Arguably, even more impressive is the fact that Joji himself had a part in the production as his name is scattered throughout the credits as well.
From top to bottom, Nectar is loaded with a lot of great music and musical elements for the audience to truly appreciate. With that being said, the couple of small flaws the project possesses do take away a bit from it being perfect. The biggest complaint off the bat would be that the album is a bit too long and has songs that mesh into each other quite a few times. The eighteen tracks could have easily dropped to fourteen, which in turn would have better replay value as it would have been more concise. There also seems to be a couple of tracks that sound similar to material on the album itself and previous Joji music, such as “Reanimator” and “Upgrade”.
Past these imperfections, the album holds up great against other musician’s projects that try to establish a similar, somber love theme. For listeners who like to indulge in music that speaks to them about relatable topics, or for those who need good music to throw in the background when studying or driving late at night, Nectar is a fantastic listen. My favorite tracks were “Tick Tock”, “Daylight”, “Pretty Boy”, “Mr. Hollywood”, and “777”, though those are open to change after some more listens.
Article By: Sushrut Shendey