Emotions are messy. We rarely experience them with coherency, they often collide with one another in confusing ways, and we can get trapped in certain states of mind for days if not weeks at a time. Nectar, the latest release from Joji, is a multi-faceted mood piece of sorts. It is at once melancholic, lovesick, and hopeful while being mired
in a very particular malaise.
Joined by an impressive production team including Diplo, Bekon & The Donuts, Justin Parker, and Kenny Beats, the Japanese born alternative R&B artist strikes an intriguing balance on Nectar between the lo fi intimacy of his earlier releases with the glossy sheen of a big budget production.
The record is definitely a slow burn with the first three tracks bearing a similar moody vibe featuring consistent use of lo fi guitar and piano samples throughout. Nectar really starts to pick up with “Daylight” which includes a punchy beat provided by Diplo, a nostalgic synth hook, and a sweeping, romantic chorus.
The real sweet spot (pun intended) on Nectar comes with the three track run of “Gimme Love,” “Run”, and “Sanctuary.” Each of these previously released singles showcase Joji’s versatility as a songwriter making them the strongest songs on the record. “Gimme Love” is perhaps the most ambitious composition on the album with thudding bass and a driving beat on the first half shifting dreamily into an angelic piano and string leaden finale. The guitar heavy “Run” is a soulful R&B barn burner featuring an anthemic chorus and a searing guitar solo in the final leg of the track. The crown jewel on Nectar is “Sanctuary,” an enchanting electro pop ballad that achieves lift off thanks to an uplifting and catchy falsetto performance by Joji.
The second half of the record is a bit of a mixed bag in part due to the featured guests that make an appearance on a handful of the remaining tracks. “High Hopes” starts strong with an introspective acoustic guitar line, a bare bones beat, and an atmospheric vocal refrain though Omar Apollo’s auto crooned verse seems out of place with the rest of the track. The song “Pretty Boy” is distractingly messy on a few spots though Lil Yachty’s verse is a pleasant surprise as the standout section of the track. “Reanimator” featuring electro experimentalist Yves Tumor is fittingly the oddest composition on the LP as a glitchy, extended instrumental intro devolves into a druggy dance beat accompanied by heavily distorted synths and guitar.
Joji has certainly taken a step forward with his second wide release. On the singles especially he shows moments of real creativity with the arrangements and showcases his undeniable skills as a vocalist. For its bevvy of producers and guest artists, Nectar is consistent in its emotionally conflicted tone.