Jonas Brothers – The Album

It truly doesn’t feel like it’s been a full four years since the release of the Jonas Brothers’ 2019 comeback album Happiness Begins, with quite a few one-off singles, collaborations, a 2021 tour and a solo album from Nick in the interim. That attitude of not really committing to anything concrete or wide-reaching might make a lot of sense listening to their latest project, simply titled The Album, because if the brothers’ return has always felt a little bit like a studio executive’s big idea to cash in on nostalgia to you, you’re about to be validated. Just when we thought Miley Cyrus’ Endless Summer Vacation would be the blandest pop album recorded by a former Disney star containing several shoehorned references to summer on nearly every song to come out in 2023, Kevin, Nick and Joe have joined forces once more to prove us all wrong. Mostly produced by the even worse Charlie Puth, Jon Bellion, The Album suffers from TikTok attention span-itis with its miniscule track lengths, lyrical misfires both underwritten and quizzically out-of-place, and watered-down pastiches of 1970s funk-pop that permeate throughout its entire runtime – but I think you probably already assumed as much when you saw two track titles beginning with the word “summer” directly beside each other on an album titled The Album. It’s fully creatively bankrupt.

The project opens with Joe Jonas belting “Jerseyyyyyyy” in a muted Auto-Tune yelp and some plucky, bouncy piano chords that come across as the kind of obnoxiously happy and upbeat song that would be playing in a poor attempt to cheer people up in a dystopian society. The track “Miracle” coasts along with a jaunty falsetto chorus with the synths echoing the melody and a truly awful drum fill that goes on for too long and throws off the rhythm. Where Nick was usually the suave counterpart to Joe’s general overblown cringiness, Nick is now asleep at the wheel and Joe’s grittier cadence is at least trying to inject some much-needed energy, or at the very least, humanity. The track “Montana Sky” certainly has one of the catchier choruses here, set to a sudden acoustic guitar breaking up the funkier syncopation in the back as the brothers harmonize about endless nights in various states across the nation, but the whole aesthetic has been done to death and in much more personal and creative ways by others. It feels like the Jonas Brothers thought nobody would notice if they ripped off one of the lesser-known tracks on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. Single “Wings” is put in prime position near the beginning, and it finds the group speedrunning a song as they fly through undercooked switchups and motifs to fit the track length under two minutes. It’s unsure which part of this was supposed to be the 15-second TikTok loop, because there’s not much about it that’s memorable.

Since this is essentially the Jonas Brothers’ yacht rock album, they figured they’d lift a phrase from one of the genre’s classics on the track “Sail Away,” something that they sing a couple too many times over some of the most generic twinkly piano parts you’ll hear. Unironically using the phrase “big sunset summertime miracle” as if the track were written by a Trump tweet AI generator, Joe Jonas sounds particularly whiny while delivering this one. Speaking of Trump, the track “Americana” opens with Jon Bellion’s muted voice singing “my people, one time for my people,” and it’s not even the last time Bellion says something that a white person should probably never say on this album. The song itself is another apocalypse-core incredibly cheerful acoustic loop as the clearly out-of-touch brothers pay tribute to good ol’ hard-workin’ country folk who “show their love by pickin’ on ya” that starts fading out at the 1:48 mark. The exclamation point on the track title “Celebrate!” will not make me accept the absolutely nauseating energy that can be filed right next to Pharrell’s “Happy” and Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling” either. With a choir in the background instructing us to live it up and a digitized brass section, it concludes a truly unfortunate run of tracks.

The single “Waffle House” kicks off the second half – it’s said to have been inspired by the Doobie Brothers and the Bee Gees, and what results is essentially the melody to “Physical” that already got adapted a couple too many times during the early-pandemic retro boom pasted over an instrumental that’s a little too close to being “The Hustle.” The gospel choir in the back echoing the lyric “kill each other” starts to make the idea of this album ominously echoing while hiding out in a bunker even funnier. The track “Summer In The Hamptons,” however, makes me want to get in that bunker, apocalypse or not. The brothers mentioning scandalous activities – so many times, repeated in a row – is even more awkward this time around than on the little-known original version of Nick Jonas’ “Jealous.” The track alternates between some overly-dramatic harmonies and cutting back to Nick half-heartedly mumbling the track’s title. In between these two tracks is the song “Vacation Eyes,” one that goes full yacht-rock and honestly becomes kind of endearing for committing so hard to the bit. With passionate, slow-dance ready piano in the background and a clarinet solo at the end, the brothers drop some dreamy harmonies about seeing their partner in an even more idealized light while on a perfect vacation, Joe developing heart eyes for the “beach towel rolled up like a hair tie.”

For the same reasoning as “Montana Sky,” a knockoff of much better songs, “Summer Baby” hits a little harder in the catchiness department due to essentially being a rip-off of “September.” With a nicely mixed bassline, the instrumental is doing all of the legwork on this one, and at this point I’m honestly dreading summer if the general public latch onto all of these endless references. Things close out with “Little Bird,” an emotional song about these dads eventually seeing their daughters get married that contains some pretty gross and outdated tropes about her replacing the love for her father by “flying into somebody else’s arms,” and “Walls,” a melodramatic track with a pretty nonsensical central idea about tearful walls in the wake of a breakup that goes on for far too long after all of the short ones. Even worse, there’s a 2-minute outro that finds Jon Bellion repeatedly bellowing a Biggie lyric that’s become iconic in rap culture.

Surely after hitting big with “Sucker” upon their return, the Jonas Brothers have made more money than they could ever need, right? There’s no more need for releasing further albums and they can retreat to being judges on talent shows and becoming one of those musicians more known for their public presence than their artwork? Because continuing down this path might get pretty bleak.

Favourite Tracks: Vacation Eyes, Summer Baby

Least Favourite Track: Summer In The Hamptons

Score: 2/10


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