Sleeker and more powerful than his lo-fi early material, George Miller’s second Joji album ‘Nectar’ is a small but noticeable step forwards.
Nectar is the sophomore record from Japanese
singer-songwriter, 88-rising alum George Miller, professionally known as Joji.
Known for his lo-fi, melodic and alt-R&B tunes and stylised autotuned vocal
harmonies, Miller tackles various serious themes of love and fame and delivers
it all with a side of melancholy and ethereal beauty. While Miller just
recently started to release music under Joji with his first EP In Tongues in 2017 and his
debut record BALLADS 1
in 2018, he is no stranger to the art form, as he started to show interest and
made music back when he was in sixth grade, and since then he has demonstrated
an affinity for music through his now-inactive YouTube channel.
As compared to his debut record and EP, Joji has undergone a
rather drastic change in his music in all fields possible. He has largely
abandoned his lo-fi aesthetic and adopted a lot more sleek and pristine musical
identity. This record features immaculate and melodic beats, soulful song
writing and features his best vocal performances to date. Also, Joji has changed
up his production process by going from a mostly self-produced record to a more
collaborative effort in this record which resulted in a cleaner and crisper
production. And, perhaps the most important change of them all, he’s become
more expressive and diversified his emotional delivery in his vocals, which
makes whatever he is talking about hit harder. While Joji did certainly enjoy
commercial success with BALLADS 1 but listened carefully to what the
critics had to say and got back into the studio, wasting no time in churning
out this record, with the first tasters for Nectar arriving less than a
year after the release of his debut.
The record starts off with ‘Ew’ featuring a poignant but
simple piano melody only to be enhanced further with violins, percussions and
some 808s. Joji talks about past relationships and how he wants to achieve a
more lasting relationship. Then we go on to ‘MODUS’ which begins with another
soft piano motif which transforms into trap beats where Joji describes he
pressures of the music industry where he is being restricted to be a pop star. ‘Daylight’ features
beautiful, lush, and quite beefy instrumentals and beats by Diplo and Joji
narrates how he feels helpless at the end of a relationship and reminisces about
the past. ‘Gimme
Love’ is an upbeat love ballad with charming orchestral vocals and snares &
synths and grandiose in the end from Joji where he simply asks for love and
attention from his beloved. Followed up with a ripping guitar riff and solo,
bringing out elements of psychedelic soul, Joji shows disarray for his new
lover and wants to ‘Run’
away from these feelings.
‘Sanctuary’ sees Joji in a synth-pop love ballad depicting
his love for a potential lover characterised by the buzzing synths and 808s, terrific
chord progression and Joji’s euphoric and poignant singing. ‘NITROUS’ marks the
second collaboration between Joji and Clams Casino, making a fun little beat
with an upbeat tempo. In ‘After Thought’ Joji describes the aftermath of a
dysfunctional relationship. He reflects on where he and his partner went wrong
and wonders how the partner feels about the situation and BENEE lays down a
gorgeous verse. Joji discusses about having a no strings attached relationship
in ‘777’ where he draws quite a bit inspiration from PC Music’s auto-tuned
delirium. Nectar closes out with ‘Your Man’, described as pulsing ode to
eyes-closed, four-to-the-floor escapism is the anthemic and final song of any
dance floor sees Joji comfort his crush after an initial breakup between her and
her previous lover. A fitting and satisfying end to the record.
Nectar sees Joji in his best form yet, embracing some
of the shortcomings of BALLADS 1 and just improving and perfecting his
craft. But this record is not without some shortcomings. Some of songs are not
cut properly so they feel a bit unpolished, such as ‘Pretty Boy’. Some of the
features on this record do drag down the songs quite a bit, and there’s at
times too much filler and not enough cohesion between the standout tracks, making
the back-end of the album disengaging at times. Despite all this, Joji has delivered
a better and worthy successor to his previous body of work, and it will be
fascinating to see where Joji goes from here and see how he progresses as a
musician and artist. (7/10) (Aryan Agarwal)
Listen to Nectar by Joji here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: 88rising, Aryan Agarwal, George Miller, Joji, Nectar, Sony
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