“Nectar” flows slow and pulls at the heartstrings


Gavin Van Devender, Volunteer Writer

“Nectar” is George Miller’s, more commonly known as Joji, sophomore record. This album has been highly anticipated since the release of the single, “Sanctuary”, back in 2019. This album features a whopping 18 tracks in all with four of those tracks being the singles he released over the past year. This record has the best production we’ve seen from Joji so far. It is also very easy to see how much Joji has improved as a vocalist especially in songs like “Sanctuary” and “Like You Do”. The question on everyone’s mind, does “Nectar” live up to the success of Joji’s previous record “BALLADS 1”?

The album opens with the song “Ew”. This song does a very good job setting the tone with soft piano arpeggios that are driven by a nice kick snare pattern. This song builds up to an ominous sound string section that the song fades out with. Overall, this track gives off Joji’s traditional “sad” vibes and lyrical themes of love and not feeling like enough. This is a solid song, and a great way to start an album.

The second track “MODUS” is what you would expect from a Joji song. A catchy piano melody, a driving trap beat and beautiful yet painful sounding vocals. The biggest standout part of this song is the way Joji flips up his flow in the second verse. This is just an average Joji song in my opinion. It is not amazing but it isn’t bad either.

The next track, titled “Tick Tock” is a very catchy song with its very guitar heavy melody on top of your standard type of trap beat. Joji uses a more baritone delivery on the first verse which is a welcome change of pace. He goes back and forth between this lower delivery style and his more common higher pitch delivery. At just 2:12 in length, this track is fairly short but satisfying nonetheless.

“Daylight” featuring Diplo is the first single to appear on Nectar. This song has a constant and simple high hat groove that is accented by staccato guitar chords until the big synth driven chorus. This is an amazing track overall that has lyrical themes centered around the helplessness one may feel towards the end of a relationship. This track, in my opinion, is probably the weakest out of all the singles on this album, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an amazing song.

The next track is a very short interlude track called “Upgrade” clocking in at just 1:30. This is a very calm and relaxing track. It is primarily composed of just drums and acoustic guitar. The choir like vocal harmonies towards the end are a nice cherry on top for this track. It is an overall solid song for it’s length.

“Gimme Love” in the next track and the second single to appear on this record. This song opens with a frantic drum pattern that transitions in the first chorus. The hook, “gimme gimme love” is surprisingly catchy for how repetitive it may seem on paper. Just when you think you have a feel for this song, at the halfway point it takes a turn from upbeat pop song to a more ballad type track with a heavy focus on strings, vocal harmonies, and an arpeggiated acoustic guitar. The lyrics focus on longing for the affection of someone and the pain that is caused when that affection is not given. 

The next track and next single “Run” is one of the strongest songs on this album. The track starts off well by introducing the guitar melody that is the backbone for most of the vocal lines. This song is extremely catchy and impactful with it’s lyrical idea of trying to run away from your feelings. This song’s instrumental builds up to a surprising but amazing ending with a ripping guitar solo. This is a very odd thing to include on an album like this, but Joji has always been good at bending genres and using unconventional methods when making a song. The choice to add the solo is a beneficial one to both the song and the album as a whole in my opinion.

“Sanctuary” is actually a single that Joji released in 2019. After re-listening to it on the whole album, the song is just as amazing as the first time I heard it. The instrumental composition of this song takes a minimalist approach using mainly just drums and a few different synth pads. This does not take away from the song in any way though. This approach allows for Joji’s vocals and lyricism to shine. This track is a perfect example to show how much Joji has grown as a singer. The lyrical content describes how a person you love can be both a literal and metaphorical “Sanctuary”. This is not only one of the best tracks on the album, but one of the best in Joji’s discography.

The song “High Hopes” is another typical Joji song. It is honestly underwhelming to say the least. It just feels like a less exciting version of an “In Tongues” song. The aesthetic of this track makes sense in the context of the album, but it just fails to stand out from the other tracks in any redeeming way. This song also features Omar Apollo which doesn’t add much to the track. His verse is not bad by any means, but it just doesn’t blow anyone away. This song as a whole is not bad. It just gets outshined by so many of the better tracks on this album.

The next track, “NITROUS”, suffers from the same problems that “High Hopes” has. It is a nice well produced track with decent lyrics, but it also feels more or less just like another filler track. That is not a bad thing inherently. I understand that not every track on a record is going to stand out  extensively. This song doesn’t have the issue of breaking up the flow of the album, but I don’t see any other reason to listen to it unless you are listening to the album front to back.

The track “Pretty Boy” is a very solid track on this record. It has a very nice trap instrumental that varies throughout the song with subtle intricacies and experimental sound. This song features Lil Yachty who brings his signature flare with his auto-tuned vocals and lyrical delivery. Joji and Lil Yachty discuss the idea of putting on a confident front to disguise the internal struggle that many people go through.

“Normal People” is another one of those songs that can only be described as a Joji song. It somehow has a low-fi sound while also having outstanding production. This is probably due to the contribution of Rei Brown. Overall, this track isn’t the most outstanding song on the record, but it fits the mood and tone of the record.

The track “Afterthought” is another great Joji song about failed love and the feelings that follow after a relationship. This song features the singer BENEE who steals the show in the second half of the song. Both Joji’s and BENEE’s vocal performance on this track is amazing. It is easy to hear the pain they are trying to express through their voice. The instrumental for this track complements the vocals perfectly with its punchy drum beat and mellow piano.

The 14th track, “Mr Hollywood” is a very important track for Joji’s discography. This song touches on Joji’s newfound fame and stardom that he received after the release of his previous album “BALLADS 1” and how he wants to remain humble no matter how much fame he receives. This song also features some amazing production with a minimal but noticeable bass line and tone. This song also has some nice experimental sounds that really accent the track as a whole.

The next song “777” is a real surprise of a song. In my opinion, it is one of the best non-singles off the record. It has a real upbeat feel in comparison to the rest of the album and Joji’s discography as a whole. It is nice to see Joji step out of his comfort zone and create this amazing track with a killer chorus that stays stuck in your head.

The 3rd to last track is called “Reanimator” featuring Yves Tumor. The first minute and a half of this song is just ambient instrumentals that give off an uneasy feeling. This is respectable in my opinion. Most modern popular artists wouldn’t have a track like this on their record. It is songs like this that show that Joji is one n this for the art of the music.   Just because a musical work isn’t traditionally “commercial” doesn’t mean that the song shouldn’t be shared with the public.

The track “Like You Do” is the 2nd to last song on this record. This is a piano driven love ballad that pulls on the heart strings. The theme of the lyrics revolve around reflecting on a relationship that is slowly coming apart. The vocal delivery on this song will really make you feel the emotions Joji is trying to express. “Like You Do” is a tragically beautiful song that can bring tears to your eyes.

The final track on the album is called “Your Man”. This song describes someone comforting their love interest after said love interest had experienced a break up. This song features a pulsing four on the floor drum beat which seems to draw influence from EDM. I feel that this track is a solid album ender, but I feel that other tracks on this record may have done the job a bit better. It is still a great track despite the fact that I disagree with the placement of it.

In my opinion this album does not have any truly bad tracks on it. There are a few songs that are a bit underwhelming, but that may be due to the fact that there are some really good stand out tracks that they have to compete with. The only real complaint I have about “Nectar” in the track order of the album. The layout just feels slightly lopsided. Three of the four singles on this record are all right beside each other. This is a very minimal gripe to have though. The instrumentals, vocals, lyrics, and production are all amazing on this record. I’d have to rate “Nectar” a solid 4/5. This is a very good album that I highly recommend listening to, especially if you are a fan of Joji’s previous works.