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Album Review: BALLADS 1 – Joji

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Album Review: BALLADS 1 – Joji

Image from Joji's official Facebook account

Image from Joji's official Facebook account

Image from Joji's official Facebook account

Image from Joji's official Facebook account

Daven McClellan, Staff Writer

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Up and coming Japanese artist Joji released his debut studio album at the tail end of October, titled Ballads 1. The album was released under a fairly new label that has been steadily gaining popularity this year, 88Rising. Ballads 1 has been well received by critics and most agree that the quality of his music, production, and content has increased since his last project, In Tongues. I’ve been following Joji for a handful of years, and he’s definitely had an interesting progression that has its ups and downs, this newest album being one of the ups in my opinion. It was mainly produced by Joji himself but does feature some currently trending producers, such as Clams Casino. Out of all 12 tracks, there’s only one vocal feature, from Trippie Redd. 

Personally, this record has been kind of an acquired taste. I listened to all of the singles that dropped before Ballads 1’s release and didn’t think they were too spectacular at first, but after a couple listens, they really started growing on me. Though, I found I’m not completely alone in this after talking to other people about the album. So, the biggest piece of commentary I have on the project as a whole is just, “Give it a chance”. Some of the tracks I thought were bland and uninteresting have become my favorite after a couple run-throughs of the tracklist. 

FAVORITE TRACKS:

NO FUN – This was one of the songs I liked right of the bat. It’s unapologetically apathetic and bitter but still manages to sound upbeat and be really catchy, which is an interesting combo. The lyrics that I catch myself singing don’t seem that memorable on the surface, but end up stuck in my head anyways, like “I drive ’round on my own, I’m rich but my AC broke”.

CAN’T GET OVER YOU – This song really sets a major sonic theme on the album, which is, ‘depressing lyrics paired with trendy upbeat instrumentals’. While this isn’t a theme that entirely dominates the album, it’s fairly noticeable, and refreshing to my ears. This track really shows that this is the same old tormented, emotionally unstable Joji, but it also shows that depressed people don’t live in a pit of sadness.

TEST DRIVE – I would definitely describe this track as having a radio-friendly sound. It feels like it won’t have any trouble reaching a wide audience that includes people who weren’t previously fans. The chorus is fairly simple, catchy, and relatable to a decent amount of people, which makes it easy to learn the words after a listen or two, and sing them like you mean it.

LEAST FAVORITE TRACK:

WANTED U – Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against this song, I really like the percussion, and some of the delivery really strikes a chord with me musically, but at the end of the day it doesn’t stick in my head as much as some of the others do. I don’t think it’s a bad song, it’s just not that memorable, which I count as a weakness.

I short, this project is something I’ll keep coming back to. That’s not something I can say for a lot of the albums I listen to after their release. Most of the time I can pick out a track or two that I vibe with, throw them in a playlist, and forget about the album, but this one will make it on to my car stereo late at night when I’m driving home from work.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10

 

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