Review Summary: While the record is clearly not intended to draw in adult listeners, you'd be surprised how well it holds up against more mature contemporaries.
Maturation creeps upon us in unassuming ways. There isn't some threshold crossed at the age of majority after which point you can no longer listen to teen pop or read the Adventures of the Bailey School Kids
. Yet the passage of time allows for reflection on individual maturation. As a teen, the daily tribulations of Britney Spears seemed to matter. As an adult, the same transformation the world witnesses in Miley Cyrus seems immaterial and invasive. Perhaps then, it explains why the Jonas Brothers phenomenon has passed by me on a level of irrelevance heretofore reserved for Solange Knowles and BBMak, despite the fervour apparent in today's youth. But what does it say if the Jonas Brother's latest release "A Little Bit Longer", is not as alien as expected?
Ostensibly comprised of an Evangelical Christian trio of siblings, the Jonas Brothers were thrust into the international spotlight thanks to pervasive Disney marketing and a boy band void. Known equally for their relationships with under-aged television actresses as for their musical efforts, the trio reached a popularity peak in the summer of 2008, with the release of the made-for-tv Arthur Miller adaptation Camp Rock
(possibly untrue), and the fiery single "Burnin' Up".
With the focus apparently on branding through all media imaginable, the Jonas Brothers do little to produce confidence in the musical validity of their third studio album, A Little Bit Longer
. Surprisingly, this is not the case. While not a masterpiece, the Jonas Brothers present a cohesive and amusing, if overproduced, summer album. The soaring chorus of "Shelf" could vault it to the top of the charts; mellow "Lovebug" rivals anything written by Jack Johnson. "One Man Show" is an uptempo number, in which lead singer Joe Jonas bitterly snipes, "you can call me but I won't pick up the phone, I'm a one man show
". "Video Girl" is a punchy rebuke to talentless famewhores, where Jonas sings, "move to LA, got not talent/not even like you won a Miss Teen Pageant, Daddy pays your bills but you still whine
". Their ballads, "Can't Have You" and "Sorry" are whiny and indistinguishable, and the Jonas Brothers' strength clearly lies in uptempo numbers - namely, the funky lead single "Burnin' Up". Though its rap bridge is gratuitous, and not in a good way, the song holds merit to being the best of the summer, helped by its surprisingly original lyrics: I'm stepping into the lava, but I'm trying to keep from going under
", sings lead vocalist Joe Jonas, "who turned the temperature higher, 'cause I'm burning up for you baby
". Simply put, the Jonas Brothers present an unexpected number of quality pop songs, even if the slower tracks are dull.
Lyrically the Jonas brothers are unremarkable, but it's more than standard for their genre and age. If the biggest criticism presented is their lack of lyrical sophistication, it puts them on a level with most popular groups, the majority of whom are far more aged and experienced. It is unfair to criticise teenagers for writing like teenagers.
The brothers alternate lead vocal duties, but Joe Jonas fronts most tracks and has established himself as the clear leader of the trio. While the voices of all three suffer from teenage mewling, they are clearly confident singers whose talents will grow with age. And, while their approach to some subject matter comes off as inauthentic, on the whole their material is well presented - an album for teenagers, by teenagers. While A Little Bit Longer
is clearly not intended to draw in adult listeners, you'd be surprised how well it holds up against more mature contemporaries.