Joji’s new album bores

‘BALLADS 1’ showcases an odd mix of electronic, melancholic songs


Fair use from 88rising Music

Gabe Kaplan

“BALLADS 1” marks a major career shift for Joji, a former viral internet star known for his Pink Guy and Filthy Frank personas.

The tracklist originally wowed some, even reaching number one on Billboard’s R&B and hip-hop chart this month, but its mellow melodies and repetitive lyrics left me unimpressed.

The album takes on a melancholic feel through its angsty and depressing lyrics which are balanced by the somewhat upbeat music. The tracklist is dominated by R&B tracks, which are characterized by strong vocals and heartfelt lyrics as well as some calmer songs. Several tracks also feature electronic music with ringing bass and shrill sound effects.

At times the lyrics are catchy, but throughout most of the album, Joji is drowned out by overly-loud instrumentals such as in the opening song where the bass consumes the vocals. When his voice can be heard, Joji tends to either mumble through songs or be so autotuned that his words are unrecognizable. When Joji does show off his voice, which is rare, we get to hear his beautiful and powerful voice.

The backing tracks themselves are relatively pleasant throughout the album. They generally consist of electronically produced sounds, though several songs feature guitar and other instruments that add a nice touch. The instrumentals tend to be relatively upbeat, which contrasts with darker vocals that add to the songs’ overall quality.

A number of other artists are featured such as Clams Casino, Shlohmo and Trippie Redd, but these artists add nothing to the songs. Their lines tend to be accompanied by heavy autotune and obnoxious electronic sounds that take away from Joji’s general mood and voice.

While listening to the album, I was most impressed by “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK,” which shows off Joji’s incredibly moving voice through his range and dynamics as well as catchy lyrics and a laid-back melody. The backing track mixes well with the vocals and overall produces a high-quality song. If the rest of the album matched “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK”’s quality, it would have earned itself a much higher rating from me.

“NO FUN” is entertaining to listen to as it features a quirky melody with lyrics that are actually audible and hardly autotuned which is refreshing from much of the rest of the album. The second to last song of “BALLADS 1,” “XNXX” is also enjoyable as its lyrics gell well with the music itself. The rest of the tracklist is pretty boring and monotonous at times.

Due to the album’s general laid-back feeling, its songs would serve best as background music as most are too slow, too repetitive or too boring to stand alone and entertain.

“BALLADS 1:” ★★☆☆☆