The market for dreamy, sensual music is ever expanding, and while the big names flourish, it’s up to the up and comers to define the new trends and carve a new direction for the genre. That’s where J.O.Y comes in. J.O.Y pushes his sound further in his dreamy debut 0/UYU, channeling a special atmospheric presence that subtly separates itself from the rest of R&B.
0/UYU is not necessarily a record about sonic diversity, but it certainly has it. Opening track ‘LOS’ brings the record to a sound start, the somewhat brooding and punchy synths – which are full of character – supporting J.O.Y’s Weeknd-esque delivery, as he flawlessly trades off between full voice and a sweet falsetto. This track is one of the chiller songs on the record. As already mentioned: sonic diversity is not the main selling point of 0/UYU. Thankfully, the instrumentals are not ignored; each track comes with its own special vibe. ‘Endless 8’ is a perfect example of this: it has a pretty, reverberating atmosphere to it that is a common theme throughout the record, but the funky bassline and frantic cymbals give it a distinct dancey vibe. Another side of the spectrum is ‘Don’t Say,’ perfectly uniting clean guitars and subtle synths to create the perfect slow dance atmosphere. Closing track ‘Would You Mind’ even ends with this beautiful orchestral section, that could be an indicator of an interesting direction that will hopefully follow. Even if all the music has a similar sound on the surface, this record goes to show that you don’t need to transverse genres throughout an album to keep things fresh between tracks.
While sonic diversity is not the core of 0/UYU, J.O.Y certainly has a lot of different stories to tell with his lyrics. Above all else, 0/UYU is an album about love in all its forms: love as an action, an idea, and more. This is evident in ‘October,’ the active instrumental acting as a support to J.O.Y’s honest lyrics, J.O.Y acknowledging his uncertainties about quickly going into a relationship (the chorus explains, “I feel insecure, I feel like I’m done before / Do you know the real me?”). It’s honesty like this that separates J.O.Y from some of his more popular peers: most of the time with music like this, it’s all about masculinity and showing power. J.O.Y’s lyrics appeal to a more “real” crowd. Love isn’t all about who’s on top (figuratively and literally). There’s a deeper, more personal human and relatable aspect to it that’s often overlooked in music. Before getting into the real meat, J.O.Y sings about what has to be done to get there, which is where the reality of his music sets in. When he’s singing intimately in ‘547’ or sensually in ‘Violet Alley,’ he’s not bragging about himself – he’s a real person who knows how personal a connection like this is. The song that ties that idea together the best is ‘Groupie Love,’ the crystalline atmosphere perfectly complimenting the intimate setting of just him and his lover. Everything works together to create a beautiful bigger picture on this record.
J.O.Y pushes his sound further in his dreamy debut 0/UYU, showing the human side of love that is so often ignored in popular music today while also showing who he is as a person. This record doesn’t ignore reality while being passionate – that’s where the magic really comes from.