DNCE’s ‘DNCE’: Album Review

Here’s the honest to goodness truth – I really like DNCE. For starters, their cheeky number “Cake By The Ocean” is the closest we’ve come to a “Call Me Maybe”-sized hit since, well, “Call Me Maybe.” They sound like a wacky cross between Earth, Wind & Fire and The Darkness. And, believe it or not, in a pop music scene teeming with sad girls and boys, there’s nothing like them out there. They’ve made ridiculousness work.

This is all to say that my hopes were high for the band’s DNCE album (out today, ). The singles leading up to DNCE’s full-length release have been stellar — the flirty “Toothbrush” shows off frontman Joe Jonas’ soaring falsetto while “Body Moves” is as secretly raunchy an anthem as mom will ever let you play in the car. This might also be a dream scenario for the once hair-straitening, tambourine-shaking Jonas Brother. “He’s still quirky as ever, but he’s an adult now” seems to be the uncontested sentiment amongst JoBro fans everywhere.

So why then is the album, at 14 songs in length, so draining? No one expected DNCE to be tame on their first go around, but it seems that in trying to straddle the line between quirky and messy, they’ve made a sharp turn towards the latter. The kazoo-laden “Naked” feels forced, Jonas’ voice stretched to cartoonish limits, while songs like “Zoom” and “Good Day” sound like fillers, even if they are well-intentioned. “Blown” comes eerily close to a Smash Mouth throwaway and Kent Jones’ verse seems like an afterthought.

That’s not to say there aren’t any high points here, because there are. Album opener “DNCE” is equal parts infectious and explosive. Slow-burner “Almost” is Joe’s vocal sweet-spot and is the kind of song that would make for a truly special moment in an arena. But it’s relentlessly funky numbers like “Doctor Who” and the previously-released “Pay My Rent” that give brief glimmers of what the album could’ve been. There’s real potential here. But perhaps the kazoos are better left at home next time.

Idolator Score: 3/5

Rachel Sonis 

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