Review Summary: Lyrically less than stellar, but shows great potential musically.
I have a confession to make.
Nick Jonas was definitely my favorite Jonas Brother.
He was always the one who seemed the most musically inclined and wanted to do his own thing. Kevin and Joe wanted to be rock stars: Nick wanted to be more alternative and old-school.
Well, two years after the band's breakup, he's finally getting his shot. With his self-titled debut album, Nick Jonas finally gets his chance to prove why he's still relevant to music today and not just a relic of the Disney pop star era.
Musically, Jonas's album reminds me of Ariana Grande
's debut album Yours Truly in the fact that it is a former teen star taking on '90s R&B and pop (and the killer range/head voice they both show off). It works well here, though not quite as well as Grande's album, mostly because it still feels very rooted in today's music; however, its swagger and bouncing beats cannot be denied. Almost every song is appealing in some way, with standouts being "Numb," and "Avalanche." These two songs are better than the rest because they rely on more traditional techniques than the rest, making use of analog drum machine-like sounds that really are a throwback to the '90s (not to mention the guest features of Angel Haze and Demi Lovato, respectively). The synth lines are very reminiscent of '80s and '90s pop, making for a pleasing listening experience. The only songs that distract from this are the album's opener "Chains" and "I Want You." Both are too complicated to make any sense of the lyrics and honestly don't intrigue me at all. In fact, "Chains" was so deterring as an opener that I almost didn't listen to the rest of the album. Thankfully, I did, and you should too. It is by far one of the better-sounding pop albums of the year.
Lyrically, Jonas's album reminds me of the evolution we saw in Katy Perry
between Teenage Dream and Prism in that the topics are rehashed but in a much more mature manner. I can't say that the lyrics as a whole were the greatest aspect of the album; however, looking at today's pop music, they could be much worse. Songs like "Teacher" and the close "Nothing Would Be Better" remind me of many of the more recent mature pop songs, but they don't come as close to being great works of music as songs like "The Way" by Ariana Grande and "Out of the Woods" by Taylor Swift
. Many of these songs feel derivative of current music, as "I Want You" and "Jealous" feel old and unoriginal due to their simple nature. However, I can honestly say that Jonas has matured greatly from his days with his brothers, not letting the lyrics distract too much from the music.
Overall, I was somewhat surprised by the quality of Nick Jonas's debut solo album. It may not have the lyrical depth I was looking for, but musically it is ahead of the curve, if ever so slightly. I am very interested to see what happens with his solo career. If he can sustain sales on his own, Nick has a bright future ahead of him. Very bright.