Album Review: Jonas Brothers, 'Happiness Begins'
Go into this with low expectations, and you’ll come out of it pleasantly surprised but then you’ll forget you ever even listened to it.
The Jonas Brothers – every preteen’s collective crush, made famous from the likes of Camp Rock, have reunited for their first album in 10 years. Full of sweet and satisfying pop pieces, it’s an album which, although won’t change the world, may change our summer, bringing in some sun-soaked singles.
The album starts of strongly with the singles Sucker, Cool, and Only Human. Each of these songs are objectively good, punchy pop pieces which allow the listener to ignore the offensively generic lyrics about love and lust. However, this genericism can’t carry the whole 45 minute album, and sure enough, the lack of originality becomes noticeable around the 7th or 8th song- the Shawn Mendes-esque Love Her. It is painfully obvious from then onwards; songs like Happy When I’m Sad and Trust, which could have emotional potential given their themes, instead have bland choruses and simply written lyrics such as I know that I’m better off without you / But I know that I could never live without you. If a band can’t rely on their lyrics, they must rely on their instrumentalism, an area where the trio have slightly more success.
To try and categorise the album as anything other than pure pop is a step too far, but elements of R&B, nu-soul, and funk raise their heads on the more interesting tracks like Only Human and I Believe, proving that their time apart and individual growth from other projects has paid off. Enlisting Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic to help compose and produce also helped, meaning production is sleek and songs are easy-listening crowd pleasers. Yet, perhaps, it is to the detriment of their individuality, with the penultimate song Rollercoaster sounding strikingly like an Imagine Dragons or Avicii number, imitating the stripped-back chorus that rises in a soaring crescendo. However, it’s another good pop song, which is what the Jonas Brothers indulge in. They embrace the stereotype they are seen as, and this culminates in the last song Comeback, a cheesy but rather endearing song about the solidarity and comfort their family unit brings them. This is a theme throughout the album, with love letters to the trio’s wives and to the band itself celebrating the growth and development of their family, found after a long hiatus.
Happiness Begins is easily the Jonas Brothers’ best album, but given their last was Lines, Vines and Trying Times, released in their Disney heydays, that’s not saying much. Indeed, it falls prey to the pop album cliché of the whole not being greater than the sum of its parts. Yet some of those parts aren’t bad, and although you’ll have forgotten about them in a year’s time, for now the singles offer some short-term satisfaction for a sweet tooth you might not know you had.