Nick Jonas’ ‘Nick Jonas’: Album Review

This music story never gets old: a popular boy band loved around the world quickly reach their career peak, but soon conflicts arise and one (or more) of the members leaves the group to go solo. The new artist in this latest chapter is Nick Jonas — yet his chronicle is a tad different. The Jonas Brothers announced their spilt in October 2013 after seven years in the business, and the band’s youngest sibling crept under the radar. That is, until puberty hit him like a truck and he arose as a shining, damn sexy solo artist (again).

His method was all in conjunction with his eponymous sophomore album, which is out today (). Ever since the announcement of the LP back in September, Jonas has become more known for his rock-hard body and newfound sexuality. Yet does his current music have the ability to survive long past the chiseled six-pack vanishes? The answer is yes — but just barely. When placing Nick Jonas in the context of pop music in 2014, it is a standout project. But when compared to all the great modern R&B we’ve received from acts like Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, Miguel, The Weeknd, DrakeFrank Ocean and more, its uniqueness becomes lost.

Nick Jonas begins with “Chains,” the buzz single that revealed the singer’s fresh image. It is a moody mid-tempo R&B cut that is reminiscent of when Justin Timberlake emerged as a solo artist under Timbaland‘s shadowy wing, with 2002’s “Cry Me A River.” Not to say the songs are identical, but both are equally attention-grabbers. Jonas’ enticing and smooth vocals are laid perfectly over the Jason Evigan-produced beat, which draws you in with its ominous trap-inspired drops. It’s a great signal for what’s to come for the rest of the album.

Next up is “Jealous,” one of the more radio-friendly tunes on the LP, that is currently getting major attention due to the singer’s slinky remix with girl-of-the-moment Tinashe. The single is a wonderfully upbeat pop song that is a feel-good moment, thanks to Jonas’ cheeky lyrics (It’s not your fault that they hover, I mean no disrespect/It’s my right to be hellish, I still get jealous/’Cause you’re too sexy, beautiful/And everybody wants a taste). I mean, no male singer can go wrong with an envy-themed song in their musical arsenal. The production’s stomping bassline and funky ’80s-inspired flair is super catchy, which is probably why you can’t get similar songs like Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and Miguel’s “Adorn” out of your head.

If “Jealous” is Jonas’ self-described modern take on Lionel Ritchie, then think of “Teacher” as his spin on Prince. Pushing the unnecessary semi-nude lyric video aside, this song has a fun retro vibe that makes you want to get down on the dancefloor and shimmy your way into the arms of a good-looking stranger.

Remember when Justin Timberlake added that god-awful track “Gimmie What I Don’t Know (What I Want)” on the second half of his 20/20 Experience album? Well Nick Jonas does sexy caveman much better, on the bouncy LP cut, “Wilderness.” The song has a bright underbelly due to the melodic piano notes, but the lyrics tell a naughtier story: “Naked as the day we were born/Did you know it could feel like this?/Feel like this?/I’ll take your body back, take it back, take it back to the wilderness.”

But thankfully, the album isn’t all danceable uptempos. There are moments where Jonas takes a break from his rugged persona and reveals himself as vulnerable. The first example is “Push,” a lush ballad that places the singer’s dreamy falsetto in the forefront. The tune’s quivering synths and pulsating snare drums heighten its theme of a heartbreaking romance. The second is “Avalanche,” his duet with Demi Lovato (the only other guest artist besides Angel Haze on the fiery “Numb”). Yes, the ballad is quite safe. But chart-ready songs like these are intended to break up the quick pace of a hard-hitting album, thanks to its soaring vocals harmonies and relatable break-up story. It may not be the most exciting tune, but it gets the job done.

Nick Jonas is unabashedly the young crooner’s Justified moment. The singer pulled a page out of Justin Timberlake’s career book and stripped away his clean-cut boy band image for a more mature, edgier vibe. The result could have easily been gimmicky, but the music manages to peek through somehow and tries to hold its weight against the endless crotch grabs, bare chests and coy smirks.

The singer just needs to focus more on continuing to create a pure balance between pop and R&B, and stop coming off as try-hard “urban” like that other Justin — which may have crippled Jonas a bit when promoting this album to a completely new audience. But hey, if a former boy band member like Timberlake could do it, then Nick Jonas should be just fine.

Best Song That Wasn’t The Single: “Push,” a track that tip-toes the line of fragility and strength — due to the way Jonas controls his tender vocals over the ethereal production. The result is a stunner that is unexpected for the pop crooner.

Best Listened To When: You need a break from the banal, overbearing synth-pop of today and want to enjoy meaningful tunes with actual talent to back it up.

Idolator Score: 3.5/5

 Bianca Gracie

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