By: Roy Kang ‘22
Nectar, released on September 25, 2020, is the second studio album created by Japanese singer-songwriter Joji, a.k.a George Kusunoki Miller. Released almost two years after Joji’s first full album Ballads 1, Nectar shows Joji’s evolution as an artist. The refined production and strong vocal ability that Joji presents in this album once again prove that he is taking the right direction when it comes to his music.
Joji has always been a strong musician. Starting from the In Tongues EP in 2017 and Ballads 1 in 2018, Joji displayed a unique identity as a dark, melancholy R&B singer. However, most of his songs, except for “Slow Dancing in the Dark” which entered the Billboard hot 100, were labeled as showing high potential rather than clear-cut mastery.
Rebounding from those critiques, Joji’s exquisite production of “Sanctuary” showed evidence of his ability to produce more polished, hi-fi music. That growth continued in his next single “Run” displaying remarkable dynamics and outstanding vocal performance. Now, with his second album Nectar, Joji is ready to surprise us again.
In Joji’s recent interview with Office Magazine, he said that the title “Nectar” and its inspiration came from a recent incident he witnessed. One day, Joji spotted a line of ants marching towards his freezer, probably looking for his ice cream. When they finally made their way in, he found the whole assembly line frozen to death. Looking at the dead ants reminded him of the words, “What will you do for your nectar?” Reflection on the desire and sacrifices one makes to reach such goals, alongside messages of the psychological and physical need for escape, became the central themes of this album.
Nectar’s first track “Ew” tells of Joji’s past relationships and the lover he desires. It sets a mood of loneliness and the longing for a past lover who has left him, while also portraying the quest for a lover who will not leave him behind. In the second song “Modus,” Joji continues the somber mood, addressing the psychological pressure that introspective artists experience. He explicitly depicts the insatiable “shirts” of the music industry that extract everything from artists.
The 6th track “Gimme Love” is the pivot point of the production, as more light-hearted, groovy songs emerge. “Daylight,” for example, produced by Diplo, depicts Joji mourning the end of a relationship, alongside a remarkable combination of bass and piano blooming into a sweet-sounding chorus.
Although Joji has created an amazing compilation, he will not stop moving forward. In his recent interview with Office Magazine, Joji said he will have to jump into the next thing right away, rather than taking a breather and enjoying his finished product. He has also scheduled a virtual concert, The Extravaganza, for October 23, demonstrating his restless desire to progress as an artist. With all that being said, Nectar proves that Joji is a promising artist and leaves us eagerly awaiting his future productions.