Joji — Nectar — Album Review

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Alternative | Soul | R&B

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George Kusunoki Miller has been the visionary behind many an iconic project or alias, that have each been taking the world by storm circa the early 2010s. While being the mastermind behind the hilariously edgy and ironic YouTube comedy characters that were Filthy Frank and Pink Guy, George Miller has definitely branched off into more genuine and musical projects after abandoning the guise of Filthy Frank and his general comedic integrity.

Not only has George Miller, under the shorter name of Joji, played a vital role in the “hybrid management, record label, video production, and marketing company” that is 88rising, but he has used this platform to quickly get a far more accessible musical catalogue than the likes of Pink Guy in bloom.

That being said, however, I was one of those long-time Filthy Frank fan, I had a fairly difficult time trying to take the music of Joji as seriously as it deserved to be; given the fragments of Miller’s history that I knew of, that being Filthy Frank most notably, I was always comparing Joji’s early material in contrast to the many videos he had made as the YouTube comedian, in which he comedically criticises independent musicians; “Bad Internet Rappers” was the video that came to mind most often.

And while I shouldn’t have held onto the past too much, I unfortunately did, and this became the primary contributing factor behind why Joji’s earlier projects, such as the 2017 EP In Tongues, and his debut album BALLADS 1, didn’t get an awful lot of attention from myself. However, I also agree that the more D.I.Y style production and mixing, made BALLADS 1 especially, a bit of a hard project to swallow.

But it was actually mid 2019 in which I gave Joji the credit and respect that felt long overdue when looking back on it. My “epiphany moment” (so to speak), came in the form of the very first single to herald the arrival of Joji’s sophomore album, Nectar, which was titled “Sanctuary”.

The difference in production quality from Joji’s previous works, in my opinion, was more than noticeable, and “Sanctuary” had finally made me a fan of George Miller as Joji, and not just Filthy Frank. I was really vibing with the spacial aesthetic, along with Joji’s captivating vocal delivery.

Following the release of that single, it would be the 2019 Reading Festival live performance from Joji, which I was lucky enough to witness for myself, that really became the turning point for me. I was thrilled that all of my friends there, who hadn’t delved deep into the Joji discography themselves, seemed to love it as well. And thus, it was easily one of my favourite sets of that entire weekend.

And while, unfortunately, that would ultimately conclude the new experiences from Joji for 2019, this year was the the one where everything in this new project cycle beautifully came together. The teasing for Joji’s sophomore album arrived in the form of the brilliantly dramatic and epic “Run”, which at the time, was easily my favourite Joji track to date, and possibly still one of my favourites with the full album now out.

And while this album was originally meant to arrive in what I believe was July, Nectar was ultimately delayed by the events cast onto us by the world wide pandemic. So it has fair to say that the bar of my anticipation was set very high upon being presented with Nectar in its completion.

This album has a generous amount of tracks, with there being 18 overall, and a complete runtime of under 55 minutes. But along with this, Nectar also has an impressive list of features, with the likes of Diplo, Lil Yachty, and Yves Tumor being the most noticed by myself.

Aesthetically, this album feels very consistent in my mind, and I’m also glad that Nectar has slightly veered away from a more monochromatic sound, and instead conveys that signature sense of moody emotion from Joji in a more colourfully melodic way. I even came to love the third teaser track, “Gimme Love”, which I initially saw as a slightly vanilla track by itself. The whole thing feels hopelessly romantic, which is emphasised by the classical instrumentation that is thrown into many of the tracks on here.

And while, similarly to Gus Dapperton’s Orca, this album was immersive to the point where it felt hard to pin down and listen to critically, that didn’t stop me from quickly realising the consistent enjoyability of this album. Given how many tracks are on Nectar overall, I was impressed that the vast majority of tracks are still being enjoyed greatly by myself.

In fact, there were very few tracks on this thing that felt unoriginal. And yes, while I was hoping that “Reanimator” (one of my most highly anticipated new tunes on the album) did feel like it was cut short slightly, and could’ve integrated Yves Tumor a little more, I still enjoyed the tense and celestial instrumental. It was only really tracks like “Upgrade”, “High Hopes”, and “Pretty Boy” that felt very typical and minimal in its sound.

But when all is said and done, Nectar certainly met my high expectations, and is an exceptionally emotive album with a wide plethora of deep and ambient sounds, which are nothing short of all gorgeous, and succeed in representing the beautiful side of the complex genius, which is that of George Miller.

Favourite Tracks: Run | Sanctuary | NITROUS | Normal People

Least Favourite Track: Upgrade

88rising Records | 12Tone Music | LLC

9/10

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My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

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