Jonas Brothers – ‘The Album’ Album Review

Photo Credit: Jonas Brothers via SNL

Nostalgia is a powerful tool, and one that arguably has more currency now than it ever has – the ’90s sensation Friends is the sitcom of choice for people who weren’t alive to watch it in real-time, while Kate Bush’s ’80s hit “Running Up That Hill” has found its way back to the top of the charts nearly 4 decades after its original release. Among Gen-Z, the 2000s have taken on a sort of romanticized glow; a comparatively straight-forward period where the hottest tech was a Blackberry, and the coolest songs were discovered through MTV or MySpace.

It’s a wave of nostalgia that the Jonas Brothers rode to the #1 spot in 2019 – with a bubblegum pop hit in the form of “Sucker.” Like most of the songs off the band’s return LP Happiness Begins, “Sucker” was a perfectly enjoyable, admittedly catchy pop number that probably wouldn’t have cracked the Top 40 if it wasn’t for the nostalgia factor. The band’s newest album is being released after the nostalgic buzz for the trio has almost entirely dissipated, and the songs that populate The Album flail and fail to stand on their own. 

The Jonas Brothers alternately – and somehow, often simultaneously – try way too hard and way too little to leave an impression on the flatly titled The Album. Most of the songs are loud and overbearing, reliably leaning on maximalist production, while the brothers oversing to the point of screeches. Yet, The Album is also entirely anonymous and indistinct – a grab-bag of styles that has very little substance to say about any of the genres explored. Opener “Miracle” is indicative of this – a whitewashed take on soul music that offers grating over-singing, lyrics so banal they sound like they were written by ChatGPT, and mindless repetitions of “do do do.” Like much of The Album, it sounds like it was written in under 30 minutes by a focus group of record executives. 

Another horn-heavy failure proves to be “Wings,” which aims for the transcendence of Daft Punk and Jessie Ware’s best music, but in its brash loudness and claustrophobic mixing more closely resembles the music of AJR. The horns prove a bit more compelling on the meant-to-be-motivational “Celebrate,” but Lizzo has already done what the brothers are trying here far more times with far greater success.

The Album’s most fatal flaw is its enduring soullessness – rarely actively offensive, but consistently beige and unfeeling. In lieu of genuinely engaging music, it offers a grab bag of clichés and confused metaphors that clearly weren’t given more than a second’s thought (“I’m lit on fire // Riding some kind of wave”). On the made-for-a-Target-commercial “Americana,” the band turns the rich cultural and musical history of the titular tradition into an uninspired list of names and places and commodities.

The Album’s only half-decent song is “Waffle House.” Yes, it sounds like a cutting room floor reject from Fun’s 2012 LP Some Nights, but it also spins a compelling narrative of friendship and connection persevering. The song’s best lines (“Headstrong father and a determined mother // That’s why sometimes we try to kill each other”) demonstrate a genuine desire for a deeper understanding of our most valued connections in life. The Jonas Brothers have a genuinely compelling story to tell, it’s a shame they so often let a laundry list of producers and co-writers obscure that fact. 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.
Written by: Tom Williams

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