Nick Jonas’ ‘Last Year Was Complicated’: Album Review

In 2014, Nick Jonas shocked anyone who remotely resembled a Jonas Brothers fan when he put out his endlessly infectious second solo album, aptly called Nick Jonas. It was a re-introduction of sorts. He traded pop-rock angst for smooth R&B-tinged bedroom beats, and while it was quite the risk, it seemed to have paid off. Because, ultimately, it proved that he was a pop star with real staying power.

Two years and a heartbreak later, Jonas is back with his latest effort Last Year Was Complicated (out ) – a blustering breakup album about his very public split with former Miss USA Olivia Culpo. And it’s every bit as forthright, ambitious and sexed up as its predecessor.

The album starts off on a fiery note with abrasive kiss-off anthem “Voodoo.” With lines like “If this is what you’re calling love, I swear I’m better alone” and “I feel your claws sinkin’ in, getting under my skin like voodoo,” Jonas wastes no time launching into some burns. Even the more subtle songs like “Champagne Problems,” the Big Sean-assisted “Good Girls” and slow-burner “Don’t Make Me Choose” cut just as deep.

But for all of its ferocity, the album does have moments where it reverts to a generic pop formula. “Touch” feels a bit like a tired Justin Timberlake leftover and “Bacon,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, is either a confusing attempt to coin a sexual innuendo (What the hell is he throwing bacon on? Is his manhood the bacon?) or a blatant comparison of a girl to a piece of pig fat, which is damning for obvious reasons.

Even so, it’s tracks like Tove Lo collab “Close,” the gut-wrenching ballad “Unhinged” and the 90’s house-inspired “Comfortable” (which uses a hilarious sample of basketball legend Allen Iverson’s legendary “Practice” rant) that ultimately redeem Last Year Was Complicated. Because it’s when Jonas is at his most vulnerable that he starts to take chances, listens to his instincts and – as his album opener kindly indicates – stops “fucking with your voodoo.” Or anyone else’s for that matter.

Score: 3.5/5

Rachel Sonis