Is it fitting to say that this is a "Flower Boy" moment for Joji? Sounds really cringe, I know, but please bear with me here.
He started off as Filthy Frank, made some jokey rap music, similar to Tyler, then became more serious in his craftsmenship and made some music that although not fantastic, showed immense potential for listeners to stick around, anticipating Joji's blossoming in the future.
This, however, this is it. This is Joji's defining moment.
Just from the album cover, it shows a clear message that Joji has put aside his previous satire alter-ego and became more focused to make music that unlike before, hope to attract listeners in by shock value and sarcasm, now hope to entice listeners in by quality music. And, also from the album cover, the concept is clearly going to be more dim.
The brilliant shadowy production combined with Joji's melancholy singing perfectly captures the moody aesthetic this album aimed for.
Shame I couldn't listen this in a whole during my first listen as I was in lessons, but this album sounds great! The production feels way less awkward and more polished than some of the low points I've experienced during low points of BALLADS 1.
Joji's vocals peak in the songs with the accompaniment of gloomy instrumentals. I don't think his vocals have ever sounded better. He's always had talent, but it felt underdeveloped before. It is very possible that flaws in his vocal might start to appear to me after future listens, but first impression is checked.
The features are a bit of a mixed bag. While Yves Tumor and BENEE delivered, rei brown and Omar Apollo's features felt a little bit left to be desired. Unfortunately, I do not have the level of intellect to understand Lil Yachty, so I'll not comment about that
Edit: Okay, just listened to Pretty Boy a couple more times, and it's safe to say that Lil Yachty did well on Pretty Boy. I really hoped Lil Yachty would perform well because the instrumental sounded like something he could ace, but his inconsistency throughout the years concerned me. But, yep, Lil Yachty was a great feature!
The first 8 tracks are super consistently fantastic! As the tracklist went on, the songs were better and better, and the highlight of the album for me has to be Gimme Love and Run.
I do think the album dips a little bit in quality during the second half, but still, the consistency of the album is an upgrade over BALLADS 1.
From Pink Season to In Tongues, to BALLADS 1 and now, Nectar, Joji continues to buff his musicianship gradually. Overall, this is an upgrade from his previous music, in almost every aspect. This is a reward for fans who've stood by him in his bumpy music journey. Joji's steady and constant improvement not only build up higher expectations for fans, his current product also stands on its own as a great piece of work.
Favorite tracks: Ew, MODUS, Gimme Love, Run, NITROUS, Pretty Boy, Normal People, Reanimator
Least favorite tracks: 777