Gracing the number one spot on the Billboard R&B / HipHop album chart this week is Joji’s debut album: BALLADS 1. The record is a strong first effort from Joji, the alias of George Miller, who initially gained a following by posting crude comedy videos on Youtube. Miller, who adapted personas such as ‘Filthy Frank’ and ‘Pink Guy’ during his career in comedy, summarised the difference between his older characters and new alias in an interview with Billboard as “Joji’s just me.” Honest and self-deprecating, BALLADS 1 is musically minimalistic, relying on the thoughtful layering of simple yet effective tracks. Though music seems to flow out of Joji effortlessly, it is clear that the musical patterns have been meticulously planned, as with fewer notes each of them holds more importance in the ensemble.
To keep the listeners’ attention throughout the album, Joji seems to constantly be asking himself: “What would be the unexpected thing to do here?” He has the listener on edge by consistently surprising them with unforeseeable musical decisions such as choosing to end ‘CAN’T GET OVER YOU’ abruptly mid-beat. While tracks like ‘CAN’T GET OVER YOU’ are arguably on the album more for the sake of their good beats, many others such as ‘NO FUN’ give Joji the space to share candidly his feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression.
Catchy loops combined with dark lyrics create somewhat of an unusual equation – it makes BALLADS 1 the soundtrack to the party you didn’t really feel like going to. It gives you the license to dance along to the full spectrum of your feelings, even the darkest of them. The promise in the title is that there will be more – surely to the delight of all of Joji’s new fans.
Image: The Come Up Show via flickr