Photo Credit: Anthony Mandler
Nick Jonas has never been a stranger to the spotlight. From about the age of 13-years-old, he’s been making music from his first album in 2005, Nicholas Jonas, to rising to stardom in the Jonas Brothers with brothers Joe and Kevin. During the Jonas Brothers’ hiatus and subsequent break, Nick Jonas released his first three solo albums. Who I Am was released with the band Nick Jonas & the Administration, while Nick Jonas and Last Year Was Complicated were both fully solo albums. After returning as part of the Jonas Brothers in early 2019, the pandemic provided Jonas with time alone to reflect and create. The lockdown was a big inspiration for Jonas’ fourth album, Spaceman. While many of us were stuck inside with family, friends, or significant others, Jonas’s wife Priyanka Chopra was away most of the year filming a movie abroad. Taking the physical and emotional distance into account, Jonas developed four main themes for the album, as he told Apple Music in an interview: distance, indulgence, euphoria, and commitment.
Aside from inspiring creativity, one constant of the music to come out of the pandemic is the freedom to experiment. Taylor Swift turned alternative on folklore and evermore, Justin Bieber rediscovered his sound, and Nick Jonas wrote a solo ‘80s pop record. Inspired by artists like Peter Gabriel, Huey Lewis & the News, Phil Collins (and more!), Jonas combined these very modern themes of loneliness with sleek hooks and lush synths.
Spaceman opens with a trilogy of songs that fall under the theme of distance. “Don’t Give Up on Us”, “Heights”, and “Spaceman” all deal with being away from a significant other, and the feeling of loneliness and isolation that comes with them being away. But even as these feelings bubble up to the surface, Jonas remains optimistic that he (and his relationship) will survive the distance. The title track in particular draws on imagery that has been prominent over the last year. The idea of the lonely spaceman, who has to wear a mask or risk death, is all too familiar after COVID-19. References to elections as well as the pandemic make it a timely song that’s sure to turn some heads.
“2Drunk” and “Delicious” make up the indulgence section, referring to alcohol and sex respectively. Being in the house for too long takes its toll and Jonas described the beginning of the pandemic perfectly, where it seemed like everyone was drinking to get through the initial two weeks. Breaking away from the teen pop star model allowed Jonas to freely express his sexuality and he has not shied away from that on “Delicious”, a song with a pulsing bass and horn section reminiscent of Huey Lewis & the News.
The euphoric grouping of “This is Heaven”, “Sexual” and “Deeper Love”, take some of the highest highs of love and put them to music. Following the same production formula, the only things that really separate the sections is the subject matter of the songs. “This is Heaven” finds Jonas singing: “I don’t know how this could get much better // Than you and me, here right now // And every time I touch you it gets better.” Tracks like these leave fans wondering when they’ll find a love as strong as Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra’s.
Finally, the fourth and final section deals with commitment. “If I Fall” details devotion through multiple lives, inspired by the Hindu wedding tradition of committing to seven lifetimes together during the ceremony. “Death Do Us Part” and “Nervous” are both clear-eyed love songs that feel similar in production, but offer soaring choruses and a modern take on the rest of the album. Overall, Nick Jonas created a sonically pleasing, cohesive body of work. Each song flows perfectly into the next and touches on aspects that are relatable to all throughout the last year. If the Jonas Brothers ever decide to break up again, it’s clear to say that Nick would still be fine on his own.