Joji – Nectar



2020 – Pop / Alternative


On his second album, Nectar, Japanese singer Joji, formerly known as Pink Guy and Filthy Frank, takes on a more responsible and adult role by throwing songs with catchy lo-fi pop sounds and more mature lyrics.

In May 2020, a large part of the Twitter K-Pop community started canceling a man in a glued pink cloth that went viral years ago on the internet. Pink Guy, birth name George Miller, now known as Joji, was accused of racism in his jokes, which ones contained racial injuries that were used as a form of humor on his YouTube channels, DizastaMusic and TVFilthyFrank. However, time has passed and now Miller, who had no filter in his words and jokes, appears more responsible and his second studio album, Nectar, is far from looking like something problematic but rather something common — actually, too common.

With all its efforts and looks at creating romantic songs about love, passion and broken heart, Joji’s second album, Nectar, proves to be enough to achieve and fulfill its purpose. With a sound that mixes obscure synthesizers, deep beats and fine vocals while it seems to play the balls between Pop, Trap and Lo-Fi, the album appears as a set of direct songs that are never limited, that are direct to the point and that rarely extend after fulfilling their purpose — even those that seem to have no evident purpose. With lyrics that, despite not showing up as surprising poetry, manage to capture the difficulties and the best and worst moments of a contemporary relationship. In other words, in Nectar, Miller abandons his countless troubled personalities who made worrying jokes and decides to follow the path like a normal guy who suffers from romantic anguish and aching broken hearts.

Nectar’s best songs are those that do not strive to build sound and lyric concepts and that are able to establish themselves simply without falling into something so generic and monotone. The opener, the hopeless and spiteful “Ew,” shows Joji singing about the past alongside lo-fi beats that blend with deep synthesizers and dramatic orchestras creating a heavy, dark atmosphere. He sings, “Teach me to love just to let me go/I can’t believe I’m not enough.” However, even though much of the album follows this popular trend that mixes Pop with Rap and Trap, singing sad lyrics while heavy beats melt in the background, at no time do these songs seem tiring. Magically, Joji made them work. While in “MODUS” a melancholy piano solo evolves into gloomy Rap samples when Joji appears singing about how the music industry tries to program him to be something he is not, in “Pretty Boy,” with Lil Yachty, he appears with an ostentatious track alongside generic beats that seem to have been enhanced by synthesizers and digital tables. In both cases we have several factors that are extremely usual and generic, however, Joji made them sound much better than they usually do.

However, the most impressive part of Nectar is how Miller evolved, not only artistically speaking, but also personally speaking. Even though “Sanctuary,” which has a really nice hook, talks about how he sees his lover as a safe place, the vocals and sonority of the track make it all sound like a more sexual than loving track, especially when he sings, “Not anyone, you’re the one/More than fun, you’re the sanctuary.” Maybe this is the sexiest track Joji has ever done. Likewise, with a more adult perspective, in “Gimme Love” he seems to wander between recognizing the need for affection and a blatant plea for sex, and in “Run,” with a catchy chorus, well-written lines and impressive guitar solos, he appears singing about his ex-girlfriend who moved on. It’s really good to see that Miller has a more mature view of things now.

In contrast, the most tiring songs on Joji’s second album are those that seem to try to be what they are not. Even though “Reanimator,” with Yves Tumor, has atmospheric synthesizers that seem to get lost inside our head, the track doesn’t seem to show anything really new or impressive. While “High Hopes,” with Omar Apollo, seems lost within the album due to its sonority that seems not to speak well with the rest of the album, “NITROUS” appears with good intentions but ends up becoming a bit tiring thanks to the needlessly modified vocals. In addition, there are several tracks here that really seem to be here just as fillers. For example, the synthetic “Tick Tock,” the confused “Upgrade” and the forced “Normal People,” with rei brown. All these tracks seem totally unnecessary within the album simply because they are forgettable and do not add anything important to Nectar.

Finally, Nectar has more positives than negatives. Of course, some tracks seem generic and usual and some seem unnecessary, however, Joji made them look less tiring. At the end of the album, after the captivating collaboration with BENNE, “Afterthought,” and the reflective and inspiring criticism of fame, “Mr. Hollywood,” Joji closes the album in an even better way. In “Like You Do” Miller appears beside a piano in a beautiful ballad in which he sings about how his relationship is ending but he is not ready to move on because without his lover he will feel incomplete. He sings, “You’re the one I can’t lose/No one loves me like you do.” A little less impactful but still striking, the final track, “Your Man,” shows Joji questioning us while a rain falls in the background, “Have you ever loved? Would you go again?” I think this is a very cold and difficult question to finalize an album since we are all afraid of it and we never know the right answers.

LISTEN ON: Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal

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