ALBUM REVIEW: JOJI – NECTAR (88RISING & 12TONE RECORDS)
Impressive instrumentation, experimental production and just big tunes in general.
In Greek and Roman mythology the definition of the word nectar is, ‘The drink of the gods.’ This latest album by George Kusunoki Miller (AKA JOJI), 27-year-old Japanese singer/songwriter and former youtube superstar, is a complex one. One of the recurring themes throughout the album is chasing this dream, drinking the amber nectar, (which coincidently was what my dad called Heineken) achieving it and realizing it’s not all what it’s cracked up to be. Despite this, the second you think you understand what you’re listening to it’ll change. Joji throws a curve ball and will add a heavily distorted 808 kick to a piano melody while singing about a broken heart. He is now a million miles from pseudonym FilthyFrank.
The opening track ‘Ew’ begins with a luscious piano melody and Joji’s famous falsetto vocal. It’s a rather melancholy introduction to an album filled with predominately trip hop/RnB roots yet it doesn’t feel out of place. It’s the type of tune that you would like to hear live with a huge string section behind him. The tune is an utter pleasure to listen too and an excellent demonstration of how Joji blends different genres together seamlessly.
The theme of breaking genre barriers continues with the track ‘Modus’, by blending what sounds like a huge orchestra with trap beats. (Trap beats being complicated high hat patterns and synthesized drum sounds.) In this track we hear more of what Joji’s causal vocals register. In terms of lyrical content I think Joji is trying to describe the pressures of the music industry he sings “I do not feel the way the programmed me to feel today” and “I am Machine, I stay alive”.
‘Daylight’, the last single to be released, seems like an attempt to the appeal to the mainstream pop demographic but is nonetheless still soaked in that somber lyrical content that Joji seems to be an expert at writing. Joji sings, “I’ve been a hero, helpless I’m in hell and I’ve cried up and down in these hallways blamed myself.” It sounds as if he’s narrating what he feels like towards the end of a relationship.
‘NITRUS’ is a personal favorite. Jazzy sounding piano chords soaked in delay with a huge bass line. What’s not to like? The beat resembles that of a lo-fi boom bap type beat using synthesized drums and a huge side chain compression which makes the tune sound as if it is flowing up and down. Defiantly a driving fast song. Another driving fast tune is ‘777’. Best described as an 80’s fan’s wet dream. Huge bass arpeggios. Gated reverb on snare hits and lush synth strings. In this tune Joji sings about a no strings attached relationship.
There are a total of 18 songs adding up to about 53 mins. In this 53 mins you will laugh, maybe cry but you will sure as hell have a new found appreciation of the young man named George Miller. This album is the definition of doing what you love and do not care about what people think. Make fun of yourself. Don’t be afraid to love someone. Never let the bastards grind you down. Buy a Pink spandex suit and make a controversial rap album. Take on the world.