Joji’s new album, Nectar, is a laid-back take on feelings of hopelessness and regret. The album opens with the song “Ew” which beautifully incorporates classical orchestra sounds with a dynamic beat and Joji’s alternating falsetto and tenor vocals. Next is “MODUS” which, though similar, differs in feeling, more like a single rather than an opener. However, they both address feelings of inadequacy and desperation, though “Ew” focuses on relationships whereas “MODUS” is about the music industry. “Tick Tock,” the third song, blends the two themes, though the lyrics are not as strong as the prior two tracks. Next is “Daylight,” the first feature song with the guest
singer in question being Diplo. Though a shorter song, it shines with a strong chorus and memorable lyrics, such as “I don’t want to fight the daylight” and “you’re hiding on the FM radio.” “Upgrade,” feels more like a transition song than anything, and while it can’t stand on its own, it begins the tonal shift that continues in “Gimme Love.” Though still feeling slightly bittersweet, “Gimme Love” is by far the happiest song on the album. While this causes it to feel a bit out of place, it does not derail the album and makes for an easy-listening single.
By the second third of the album, the classical music has been traded for modern rifts. As a whole, it is not as strong as the first third but still manages to have some bangers. One of which is the song “Run.” Dark and dramatic, “Run” showcases some of Joji’s best vocals on the album.
The harmonies are interesting and the dark tone, which, while a bit out of nowhere, is fresh and interesting. However the tonal shift is not continued in the next track, “Sanctuary.” Continuing with the mood, however, could have been a vast improvement considering its main flaw is feeling tired and too much like other songs in the R&B/alternative genre. “High Hopes,” which features Omar Apollo, talks about expecting romantic love and worrying about relationships ending. All in all, it is a weak song but not a bad one. Omar does not add anything to the track, and it seems more like a collaboration for the sake of collaboration than a true artistic choice. “NITROUS,” the next song, is more interesting, with more going on musically but of little lyrical substance. It is fun and fast paced, though, and sets up nicely for the next song, “Pretty Boy.”
Featuring Lil Yachty, “Pretty Boy” is chaotic and cluttered in all the best ways. It has a sense of gloom and unease which sets it apart, not only as a track on the album, but as a song in general. After that is the song “Normal People,” which features Rei Brown. It has a similar feel to “High Hopes,” except it somehow manages to be a better song. However, Rei Brown, like Omar Apollo, feels unnecessary, though not bringing down the quality of the song.
The album, rather than ending with a bang, seems to fade out. While most artists may not be able to pull this off, Joji does it in such a way where it feels more like closure than a let down. “Afterthought” is by far the weakest song within the last section of the album. While BENEE does add to the song with lovely vocals and tender harmonies, her inclusion fels random at best. Mr. Hollywood starts out repetitively, but ultimately pulls through with a great beat drop and strong harmonies. While it is a nice track, the pitched up section at the end does bring the quality of the song down. “777” introduces a mood change without feeling too abrupt. As a song it is fun and clever, while managing cyber undertones and a fast beat. “Reanimator,” featuring Yves Tumor, expands on the cyber undertones hinted at in “777,” making the song feel apocalyptic and reminiscent of science fiction. Unlike some of the other features, Yves feels well incorporated and necessary. The next song, “Like You Do” is laid-back and deceptively simple. This more traditional, classic love song -- although running too short -- overall is a good listen. The album concludes with the song “Your Man.” While its optimism feels a bit irrelevant to the rest of the album , it is catchy and complicated while still managing to feel understated. All in all, it is a nice finish and leaves the listener feeling satisfied.
“Nectar” is a well-done album; the production and attention to detail are immaculate and Joji does not disappoint with his vocals. In places, it falls short with unnecessary features and tonal confusion, but in other places, those elements are handled well and elevate the album.