Review: A Look Inside Joji’s Artistic Manifesto, His Second Album ‘Nectar’

Nectar- Joji
Nectar- Joji
Joji meets the expectations of a second album with his new record ‘Nectar’, sending a clear message that he’s earned a place in the world music scene and nobody can tear it away from him.
for fans of Still Woozy, Tyler, The Creator
Stream: ‘Nectar’ – Joji

Those that follow George Miller – stage name Joji – from his glory days on Youtube know just how little chance he had to showcase his Lo-Fi alter ego. Between those that acclaimed and those that lambasted his Pink Guy persona, it’s no wonder that Miller had to use an alias when embarking on his album Chloe Burbank. Then came his collaboration with 88rising, followed by the EP In Tongues, various singles and then what came to be known as Joji’s first masterpiece: BALLADS 1. Now we have the follow-up, Nectar (released September 25).

Nectar- Joji
Nectar- Joji

George had a clear picture in his mind about what he wanted to achieve with his first works, and how he wanted to go about it. Has he succeeded? You could say definitely. he’s managed to prove how underneath the hardened shell of the inventor of the ‘Harlem Shake’ there’s a pensive, nostalgic boy that doesn’t want to ‘dance alone in the dark’. It’s a chained soul that screams out, wanting to be heard.

That soul, with Nectar, is more free than ever before.

You can tell from the very first tracks of the new album – released on September 25th 2020 – just how much Joji has matured.

If it wasn’t abundantly clear from the opening track “Ew“, just take a listen to the singles that have led up to the release of Nectar- amongst them, perhaps the crown jewel is “Run”. It’s a melancholic song with a rock soul, and its seeming lack of polish conceals the immense amount of care that went into every single detail, from the instrumental solo to the singer’s falsettos.

Watch: “Run” – Joji

It’s a piece that, along with the rest of the album, wants to prove just how hard Joji is willing to, and can, fight for his career as a musician. However, above all, it wants to show how George is now free to do what he loves doing. Sure, as his old alter ego Filthy Frank he seemed to enjoy a certain degree of freedom but his audience was all too willing to decree what they wanted from the former youtuber. Fortunately, George has managed to rid himself of that incredibly toxic environment and has gone on to pursue what he was born to do.

It’s no overstatement to say that Nectar is his artistic manifesto. Joji has turned his soul into music, so that everyone could listen to and understand it, turning it into something so real we could almost touch it. 

Nectar’s songs are intimate and sincere, both enjoyable and intense. A perfect example would be the ballad “Like You Do”, with its strikingly simple backing track. “MODUS”, one of the album’s fortes, is just as relevant. It’s no coincidence that it’s a critical piece to understand what Joji is trying to communicate through his music.

Joji © Jeaneen Lund

In fact, “MODUS” talks about just how manipulative and suffocating the music industry can be while it imposes its strict standards on all those involved in it. George, however, didn’t come here to play, and he says it loud and clear.

He knows that he’s perfectly capable of exceeding his limits and that he doesn’t owe anyone anything, least of all his creativity. Yet the journey to reach this goal has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination, the case in point being “MODUS” which speaks of programmers that are meant to control every aspect of an artist’s life.

I don’t feel the way they programmed me to feel today
Some pieces falling from the waist up
I’m so sorry for delays
Just need one moment to erase
That burning pain before the rage
I feel good, I feel good, I feel good (I fixed it)
And I hope this is the hardest part
We try, we try
And when they say they’re satisfied
They’re lying, they’re lying
Do forgive me, I’ve seen the treasure’s in the bloom
But right now, I’m just not strong enough for you
– “MODUS“, Joji

Joji has broken free of their clutches but he’s keeping his feet on the ground. In “Mr Hollywood”, for example, he lets us know that despite all his fame he knows what really matters to him. This lets him stay next to those he cares about, letting them guide him ‘through the end of the world’. We can say with certainty that Nectar is an album in which Miller hasn’t been afraid to explore the entirety of his vocal range, as well as his performative skills. In other words, he dared to dare.

The featured tracks are definitely more evolved compared to those that were on BALLADS 1, as is showcased by the hypnotic “Reanimator (feat. Yves Tumor)”. The visual side of the album is also extremely polished. One needs only to look at the aesthetic of the videos that have been released as of now and that, amongst other things, manage to perfectly capture the atmosphere of their tracks.

Watch: “Pretty Boy (Feat. Lil Yachty)” – Joji

Perhaps the record’s only problem is the length of its pieces. Eighteen songs aren’t especially easy to digest for anyone, at least in one sitting, especially given the lack of interludes or intros that lighten the experience. One of the few other albums that have pushed themselves to such lengths is Born to Die: The Paradise Edition by Lana Del Rey, with its 24 (!) tracks. Though it’s an icon for alternative music, at a certain point, one does feel the need to take a break while listening to it, especially if one is not familiar with the genre. However, with each listening, Nectar becomes increasingly pleasant to the ears, and it could definitely overcome this hurdle. Or, at the very least, result in a more enjoyable experience.

Nevertheless, it might be due to its length that Nectar manages to get its message across so clearly: Joji is fully immersed in his music career and has no intention of backing out now, defying every expectation one may have of him.

Mr Hollywood isn’t going anywhere, and we can’t wait to see more.

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:: stream / purchase Nectar here ::

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an album by Joji

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