Before the release of ‘Sucker’, the only Jonas Brothers song I’d heard was their blasphemous cover of Busted’s iconic ‘Year 3000’. I vaguely knew about their history, and their various solo projects, so I was interested in this reunion song, but there were no rose-tinted nostalgia goggles on. Imagine my surprise when I didn’t just like ‘Sucker’; I loved it. The vocal trade-offs! The swagger! That bass! I joined the legion of JoBro die-hards in eagerly awaiting their comeback album, Happiness Begins. What the group has achieved, twelve years after their last studio record is very impressive. Obviously, Happiness Begins doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but what it does do is gather together the sounds of DNCE, Nick Jonas and the group’s original work and smoothly modernise them into a collection of bouncy summer hits and heartfelt love songs that it would be very difficult to hate.
ethereal pop bliss with angelic harmonies
After opening with the stellar ‘Sucker’, the group’s first US number one, the album transitions to second single ‘Cool’. It’s a tongue-in-cheek summer jam that encapsulates the fun that the brothers seem to be having with their reunion and another strong effort. ‘Only Human’ lives up to this energetic precedent, laying an infectious xylophone melody over syncopated horns to build a head-nodding earworm that allows the boys’ impressive vocals to shine. Nick and Joe Jonas’ voices have clearly solidified over the years, both displaying impressive ranges across the album – Nick particularly shines on the dropped-out chorus here. Influences from Post Malone to 5 Seconds of Summer pop up throughout the more upbeat tracks present, with ‘Used to Be’ making use of a trap-lite beat, and album closer ‘Comeback’ perfectly encapsulating the blend of guitar and synths which has modernised the sound of both boybands. Standouts include ‘Don’t Throw It Away’, which features one of the album’s greatest choruses, creating ethereal pop bliss with angelic harmonies, and ‘Happy When I’m Sad’, a funky number reminiscent of DNCE’s best work. With 14 tracks, there are inevitably a few duds, but even ‘Strangers’, ‘Every Single Time’ and ‘Trust’ are enjoyable, escaping the prison of mid-tempo boredom despite not leaving much impression.
the songs mostly manage to package clichés of romance and heartbreak into engaging end products
The softer songs of the album are also largely excellent, maintaining some of the sweetness and sincerity which made the boys so popular years ago. ‘I Believe’ is Nick’s love letter to his wife Priyanka Chopra, which draws directly from his own solo work with a sexy R&B instrumental. It’s good, but not a patch on Joe’s equivalent ballad, ‘Hesitate’, written for Sophie Turner. The song makes use of a gentle guitar lick and breath-taking vocals to express the lengths he would go for love and builds throughout to a moving climax. It transitions beautifully into penultimate song ‘Rollercoaster’, which features a dizzying chorus that reflects on how far the brothers have come. The delayed guitar and snaps of ‘Love Her’ lend an intimate backdrop to more stunning vocals, though the song does cross the line into dull without any real build-up.
The Jonas Brothers aren’t poets, but the songs here mostly manage to package clichés of romance and heartbreak into engaging end products. Fortunately, anything sounds sweet or sexy when delivered by the impressive falsetto of Nick or the powerful croon of Joe – their vocals carry their passable lyrics to new heights and would anchor even the most generic of pop instrumentals. The album’s use of real guitars and drums is excellent, and it’s easy to tell how these songs will translate when played live at their upcoming arena tours, to new and old fans alike.
full of energy and earnestness that proves they are looking forward
According to accompanying documentary, Chasing Happiness, the reunion of the Jonas Brothers was brought about naturally, by three brothers who wanted to music together again for the love, not for the money; and it shows. Happiness Begins is not an album which will change the world, but it is one full of energy and earnestness that proves the Jonas Brothers are looking forward, not cashing in on the past.