Nectar is the second album from Japanese singer-songwriter Joji, released in September 2020. It was initially scheduled to release earlier in July that but had to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests.
The album sees Joji taking on a different approach from his 2018 predecessor BALLADS 1, which had his signature melancholic lo-fi sound. While that sound is still present here from time to time, it incorporates elements of alternative R&B / synthpop to the mix which is an admirable step in musical evolvement, I'll give it that to start with.
I've been following Joji's musical career ever since he departed the Filthy Frank & Pink Guy personas from the good days of YouTube, which my teenage self enjoyed the former character he played, it was the perfect meme material of the mid-2010s. I rememver stumbling upon a single in summer 2017 titled "Rain on Me" which was quite a nice, melancholic slice of Lo-fi even if I can admit it falls kinda short in songwriting as much as I love it.
Over the years, I've been finding his singles improving, such as 2018's "SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK", which is fantastic; same goes for "Sanctuary" in 2019. And then... "Run" in 2020, where I feel like he knocked it out of the park with that single with the blend of alternative rock & R&B, not to mention his vocals were quite powerful. I felt like this was such a major evolvement for Joji as a musician that I could take seriously and had hopes for this album.
Now I've heard Nectar, so what can I say about it after the high hopes from the 2 singles? Well, suffice to say... I'm not a fan of this!
Let's get the positive apsects out of the way:
I do appreciate Joji taking on multiple genres throughout this album, it clearly shows his musical evolvement since his lo-fi sound that he started off with in 2017. Going from a genre that was prevalent during the late 2010s to a broader R&B approach is quite the step, and it mostly works.
Joji delivers some of his most matured & powerful performances to date, especially on the aformentioned single "Run", but he also shows off his quiet, whisper-y vocals to great effect on "Reanimator" which feels like an additional harmony, it blends rather nicely and feels haunting.
Then there's some aspects where I'm divided on:
There's a good variety of features which include the likes of Omar Apollo, Diplo, Benee, Rei Brown, Lil Yachty & Yves Tumor. The features that stuck out the most in memorability were Yves & Benee's verses as their presence adds an extra driving force to the tracks they're featured on. Diplo's involvement with "Daylight" just feels like an unispired trap-infused R&B track that has little impact to me and Lil Yachty does nothing for me on "Pretty Boy".
The production has its highlights, where some tracks retain Joji's signature lo-fi aesthetics, but still managing to dive into new territory. I love the alternative rock elements of "Run", the deep house grooves on "Your Man" which also pack a nice bassline to drive a good punch. The energetic synthpop influenced "777" has a good amount of personality to it that makes for a good listen.
Then there's aspects I can't stand:
There are times when the production just feels so flat, with barely any personality to it. Take for example "Nitrous", it's dull enough to induce me into a coma. "Mr. Hollywood" feels like it derives from the tropes of R&B / trap music that I dislike, with the generic snares being the main off-putting element.
I also find Joji has his moments where he can deliver some passionate, heartfelt lyrics about fame, self-esteem, heartache & what people will risk for love; at times it can hit like a gut-punch, others it just feels extremely stale & dives into shallow territory that just feels like "woe is me" with how gloomy it gets mainly in the 2nd half.
Also, the album lasts a little too long with 18 tracks, which feels unnecessary. It's rather overstuffed and makes the album drag as a result.
I don't know... Joji is one of those kind of artists who can deliver great singles, but cannot deliver an album without it resorting to lyrically shallow territory that loses your interest rather quickly. Nectar is proof of that, where some cases the album has its powerhouse moments that compel me but other times it just bores me to death and I don't wanna come back to it again.
Sorry Matt if this was disappointing to read, this just didn't work for me.
|1||Ew / 70|
|2||MODUS / 65|
|3||Tick Tock / 63|
|4||Daylight / 39|
|5||Upgrade / 57|
|6||Gimme Love / 68|
|7||Run / 94|
|8||Sanctuary / 91|
|9||High Hopes / 51|
|10||NITROUS / 24|
|11||Pretty Boy / 30|
|12||Normal People / 72|
|13||Afterthought / 68|
|14||Mr. Hollywood / 33|
|15||777 / 77|
|16||Reanimator / 80|
|17||Like You Do / 71|
|18||Your Man / 70|