Album review: Joji’s “Nectar” is the redemption arc of 2020

Lischa Mears, Reporter

“Nectar,” the album executively produced and arranged by Joji, collectively saved 2020. 

Joji, also known as George Kusunoki Miller, is a Japanese singer-songwriter, producer, author and former comedian. Previously known as the YouTube persona of Filthy Frank and Pink Guy, Joji earned a respective title in the music industry by continuously shifting his comedy based medium to the focus of a career in music.

Damien Maloney

Joji released his highly anticipated album, “Nectar” on Sept. 25. As his second studio album, listeners have questioned whether the album could surpass the unique melancholic ambiance of his first studio album “Ballads 1.” 

With unique prior works in mind, ones that catapulted Joji’s success as a musical artist, is this new album an expansion of creative art or an example of confinement to previous works? 

“Nectar” is enriched with eccentric vocals and production that transcends as an expansion of creative art. 

Consisting of 18 tracks, the new album explores various genres from R&B, revitalized pop and electronic along with implements of orchestral ornamentation to greater diversify the album. The implementation of each genre allows every listener to identify with a song that correlates to their liking. 

In addition to the diversity of the album, it consists of several features that enhance both the production and distinctive sounds of the tracks. 

“The way Joji lets his guests have their way with his songs speaks to the collaborative nature of his work. It’s less about his persona than it is about finding unique sonic flavors,” critic Max Heilman wrote in his review on RIFF Magazine. 

With various features such as collaborations with the musical artists of Diplo, Rei Brown, Omar Apollo and Yves Tumor, each song is presented to the listener in a different light.  

Rather than including collaborations orchestrated solely by the style of the artist, that hinder the performance of the song, featured tracks are a collaborative effort that elucidate the talent of each artist involved. 

The variety of music style and diversity of sound allows the album to flow smoothly from start to finish. In listening to the album in its sequence, listeners embark on a journey that bursts with sound. 

In embarking on this emotive journey, listeners experience several stories that include a loving theme. 

“My mission statement was to write love songs with a slightly darker twist. It’s no different from writing a script, or giving a speech, or a presentation on something you learn about from the outside,” said Joji in an interview with GQ Magazine. 

While songs about love are often a formulaic theme in music, Joji utilizes the common theme to his advantage to create his own individual sound. This results in a form of music that positively impacts listeners with meaningful messages and allows for an escape from real-life conflicts. 

By starting the album with the song “Ew, Joji laments the downfalls of past relationships and wishes for a love in which he will simply be enough for the other individual. This song leaves listeners headbanging in a dark room alone as tears stream down their face. 

As listeners progress further into the album, the song “777” provides comfort as Joji describes the act of driving away from a tumultuous relationship, at a fast speed, to find someone that he can share an emotional connection with. The upbeat tempo of the song encourages listeners, those who do not even have a license, to drive into the horizon in search of someone who will provide them with mutual respect. 

Some may contend that the formulaic theme of love songs and an array of genres downgrade the replay value of the album by confining Joji to his previous works. However, the diversity of genres and the theme of love increase the replay value of the album by instilling meaningful themes that both adolescents and adults can relate to. 

“Nectar” is an album in which the diversity of genres allows the listener to experience a different feeling in each song. Through the implementation of various genres, emotive vocal performances, collaborative efforts and relative themes the album exceeds prior expectations of producing creative art. 

As a result, listeners can escape the conflicts of reality and experience the exquisite journey of “Nectar” at the press of a button.  

The album serves as the redemption arc of 2020 as listeners are encouraged to acknowledge heartbreak and find the strength to seek happiness again.