Bite-sized Album Review #16: Joji’s ‘BALLADS 1’

Joji is one of those folks – like always lol – who I’ve wanted to get into for a while, but I just hadn’t given myself the opportunity. I was actually doing some work for an (hopefully lol) upcoming write-up, and Joji’s name came up, so that made me even more interested in checking him out. Turntable Lab was selling some limited edition copies of BALLADS 1 (2018) on their website the other day (only 800), and I was able to snag a copy, in hopes that if I had a physical version, it would force me to finally listen to his music. Let’s just say that I found another album to cry alone in my room to ❤ I’m very excited about that.

Also lol I almost typed my last name SO many times, while writing this.

Thematic Cohesion

I think this project gives me the same vibes as Orion Sun’s Hold Space for Me (2020) (and a little bit of Baby Rose’s To Myself (2019), now that I’m really thinking), in the way that it feels like a collection of different moments, rather than a different perspective on the same moment. If that makes sense? Like, the songs on this don’t necessarily feel specifically connected to any one theme – love seems to be a consistent theme, if anything – but they all still feel very intertwined. Orion Sun gave us the language of “a collection of fleeting moments,” and this project feels like that. It feels like a dump of a bunch of different feelings and emotions that come together well because they’re all apart of the same person’s experience – love, loneliness, yearning. It’s all there. And that’s a vibe that I’m really into.

Sonic Cohesion

If you’ve heard BALLADS 1 already, you know how ~dreamy~ and atmospheric this project feels. Even when there are more hip hop and R&B elements thrown in, that dreaminess still slips in. So there are moments, like on “COME THRU,” where hi-hats mix with a slow piano loop, that sound like H E A V E N. I really really love the production and instrumentation on this project A LOT. And I don’t know how to explain this, but I like that his voice doesn’t sound trapped? Like, it feels like a project you’re supposed to listen to out loud so that everything lingers in the air. Maybe “lingering” is the right word. Lingering. Everything on this project – Joji’s voice, the production – it lingers. And now I need a dreamy teen romance movie with Joji’s music as the soundtrack.

(also very much here for that Trippie Redd feature on “R.I.P.”). Also, while we’re here, you should listen to “O Heaven” by Blu & Exile – song is GREAT.

Vibe Check

BALLADS 1 makes me feel like I’m sitting on top of a cloud that’s zooming through the sky, whilst sipping a bubble tea. I really could have a bunch of daydreams (or a bunch of cries, or both lol) with this playing in the background.

Replay Value


I think I’m gonna hold of on this for now lol. I want to wait until my record gets here to see how I really feel about it, from a replay perspective. I usually base this around how many of the songs I save to my Spotify library, but this project feels like one that I’ll find a lot more favorites out of, once the vibe is set right. So I’ll keep the question marks for now, and then I’ll edit it, once I listen to it on my record player a couple of times.

3 songs i dig…


Featured Image Credit:

Overall Album Rating

(listen to BALLADS 1 on spotify, by clicking on the image below)

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