Did you know that Joe, Nick and Kevin Jonas are all in fulfilling relationships? After listening to this record, you definitely will
One of American pop’s overlooked narratives is the enduring appeal of former Disney Channel stars. Demi Lovato is making raunchy pop-punk, while Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez can take credit for two of the biggest hits of the past year (Flowers and Calm Down with Rema respectively). And what of Jonas Brothers? Four years since their manband-style reunion, The Album presents an array of sugary-sweet odes to their partners with comfy ’70s instrumentation.
Nothing on here is as instantaneous as 2019’s Sucker, but lead single Waffle House is certainly aiming for the stars. Crunchy electric piano chords and bass licks soundtrack a tale of two lovers fighting then making up (“Headstrong father and a dеtermined mother / That’s why some nights we tried to kill each other / But you know it’s always love”), and despite the titular restaurant chain being unfamiliar to listeners this far away from Atlanta, the sentiment is cute nonetheless. Sail Away opts for a similar arrangement, adding some bongos and an acoustic guitar bit as the lyrics take on a more seductive tone.
Influences come thick and fast: Montana Sky sounds like Fragments Of Time if Daft Punk had a particular penchant for American place names, Summer Baby mines the timbres and contours of Earth, Wind & Fire’s September and Celebrate! represents some kind of parallel-universe Uptown Funk, inferior though it may be. With these touchstones in mind the auto-tune can become a little too apparent, and the economic incentives of streaming do strange things to the song structures: the lush, episodic Wings deserves to be the longest track but instead it’s the shortest, a self-described “trailer to the rest of the body of work”.
The final two tracks add a bit of depth, as Little Bird delivers a fake-live meditation on parenthood and the difficulty of letting go of those you love, accompanied by Lindsey Buckingham-esque guitar and touching falsetto harmonies. Much of The Album sticks to a limited dynamic range, but closing track Walls deliberately blows things apart with an explosive coda, featuring crashing drums, gospel-flavoured jazz organ, euphoric group vocals and Jon Bellion yelling “AS WE PROCEEEEED” at the top of his lungs.
We are left with an album that has several great tracks, but whose filler and repetitive subject matter prevent the Jonas Brothers from realising their full-grown potential.