“Nectar” Seeps Through New Sound


Krystka Mariano

Photo courtesy of 88rising production label

Asian-Australian singer and songwriter, Joji, (George Kusunoki Miller) soulfully seeps through the mainstream pop scene, with his new album, Nectar. 

Two years following his hit debut album, BALLADS 1, the Japanese artist delights fans with his release of 18 tracks in his September 2020 album, Nectar. This time, Joji steps into a more mainstream and pop style, while staying true to his soulful-ballad sound and lo-fi beats. 

Like many of his songs, Nectar focuses on the theme of love, as it touches almost every aspect of a relationship. The artist sings of the feelings felt while in love, during a heartbreak, but above all, finding true love and acceptance within one’s self. For the most part, the theme of the tracks compliment the sound and melody, further bringing out the intended emotion to the listener. 

The opening track, “Ew,” stays true to a classic Joji ballad, with piano accompaniment in the beginning and end, but soulful through the R&B beat and voice that plays for the duration of the chorus. Tracks such as “MODUS,” “Upgrade,” and “Like You Do,” take on this same approach, composing a perfect simp-session when you feel like letting out a good cry here-and-there.

In contrast to the emotional soul-filled pieces, the artist also livens up the mood through tracks like “Gimme Love,” and “777.” Here, we can see the incorporation of pop elements, and mainstream rhythms. Lyrics sing and refer to times of livelihood and making special connections with lovers. 

Specific tracks such as, “Your Man,” and “NITROUS,” almost entirely adopt the traditional pop sound, but hints of R&B remain noticeable. Additionally, these tracks consist of familiar electrical synth noises that are becoming more common to hear in the music industry. Though they bring a variety in the type of pop, it makes the song blend in with what we are used to hearing, forcing us to make no second hesitation when skipping it on our playlists. 

Nectar experiments in a new sound genre, atypical from Joji’s usual turf. In songs like, “Tick Tock,” “Run,” and “Pretty Boy (ft. Lil Yatchy),” the artist dips toes in a more alternative approach. Hints of Rock and Soul are supported by the acoustic guitar and heavy electrical bass. We can see how this is more clear in the track, “Reanimator,” where majority of the piece is instrumental. Joji experiments a new sound through the heavy use of electrical synth, mixed techno noises, backed by the presence of a dragged bass line. Though the interesting use of sounds is far from what we’re used to, the track remains special in a way that it possibly introduces a new technique from the artist. 

Several remaining tracks from Nectar remain highly enjoyable, as the artist also uses a mix of retro elements. Songs that feature other artists such as Omar Apollo and rei brown, blend with Joij’s style, creating an entertaining collaboration for fans of similar genres.

Although the original release for the album was scheduled in July, initiatives by Joji and his team delayed the release, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“There are way more important issues going on right now and [the release] should be the least of everyone’s concerns,” Joji issued in a Twitter statement. “I’d like us to keep the focus on change, social justice and the empowerment of Black people.”

Whether you are an avid listener of the R&B genre, or prefer sounds with deeper tones, Nectar, is an enjoyable album suited for the entertainment of one. May it be for an emotional night of relief, or a bedroom toon to jam out, Joji’s tracks in his 2020 release soaks listeners in special sounds.