Review: “Nectar”

Julia Dailard, Photo Editor

2.5/5
2.5/5

After almost a year of dropping singles and keeping fans at the edge of their seats, Joji released his highly anticipated sophomore album Nectar on Sept. 25an album that, unfortunately, fails to live up to the sweet promise of its title. 

Centered around the topic of lost love, the lo-fi album features notes of alt-R&B that collide with IDM and pop to create a vibe that’s strangely similar to that of Joji’s previous album, BALLADS 1.

Joji kicks off the 18-track album with “Ew,” a high-register ballad featuring dreamy piano instrumentals that grow increasingly intense and dreary by the song’s closing. Admittedly, the vocals on this track failed to hold my attention. In what was expected to be a powerful opening,  Joji largely adheres to only two pitches throughout the song’s whole three minutes and 28 seconds. The abrupt shifts between an extremely airy high-pitched tone and a much flatter monotonous one almost felt half-assed, which gave off the impression that Joji was scrambling to finish this song in time for the album’s release. While the following track “MODUS” also fails to display Joji’s impressive vocal range, it combines notes of rap and R&B to feature a more fun, fast-paced rhythm that almost makes up for what this track and “Ew” are both lacking. 

After the strange and easily forgettable track “Tick Tock,” the album moves into its most exciting section, featuring the only tracks that managed to earn a spot in my carefully crafted “windows down” playlist, reserved for coastal drives only. The first song that managed to make the cut is “Daylight,” a more mainstream and upbeat breakup anthem that’s arguably the most radio-friendly of the bunch. What makes this track particularly special is its chorus—its fast rhythm combined with its ambient instrumentals is comparable to that of the background music in the dramatic concluding scene of a coming-of-age film.

 Joji’s impressive vocal range takes center stage in the following track “Run,” where he shifts smoothly between morose belting to airy-drawn out notes in the lead of the chorus. This track also features an impressive guitar solo that creates an electrifying feel and compliments the song’s dramatic chorus nicely. Following this ballad is my personal favorite song out of the 18: “Sanctuary,” a cheery track that wraps me in a blanket of comfort with it’s spacy lo-fi aesthetic and soft sonic beats, making it best suited for nighttime driving. 

This three-song streak of dreamy ballads is cut short at track #9 titled “High Hopes” which ultimately failed to live up to the high hopes I devised for the track after seeing that it featured one of my favorite artists, Omar Apollo. Both Joji and Apollo deliver a vocally underwhelming performance that only left me with an overwhelming aftertaste of unfulfilled potential. The downward slide continues with the largely dull and monotone tracks “NITROUS” and “777.” From there, the rest of the songs failed to pique my attention with them all adhering so closely to the predictable melancholic tones featured widely throughout BALLADS 1—so much so that I actually fell asleep before reaching the album’s end, and woke up in the middle of the last track “Your Man.” It sounded like someone remixed a Hozier song with rave instrumentals. I was confused, to say the least. 

Although Nectar features some memorable and innovative tracks that reflect Joji’s growth as a maturing artist, overall, it’s clear that he struggled to step outside his predictable array of dreary monotonous sounds that his fans know all too well—and for some fans like me, are beginning to grow bored of.