Happiness Begins review: Jonas Brothers' comeback album lacks sonic novelty but has rich emotional depth
Happiness Begins marks the Jonas Brothers' first studio album after a hiatus of six years.
Much to the dismay of their loyal fans, the Jonas Brothers announced their disbandment nearly six years ago. Like most boybands, this one too had reached its expiry date. The members after all had hit their 20s and were probably itching to explore new artistic avenues.
Nick Jonas went on to shed his Disney-manufactured good-boy persona, achieving commercial success with songs like ‘Jealous’ and ‘Levels’. He even had a role in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Joe became the lead vocalist of his own funk-rock band DNCE, whose incredibly addictive debut single ‘Cake by the Ocean’ paved its way to the Billboard chart. Kevin, on the other hand, delved into relatively less glamorous ventures, investing in tech start-ups and founding a construction company.
Earlier this year, the band broke the news of their reunion and presented the lead single ‘Sucker’ from their comeback album Happiness Begins – a definite earworm. On 7 June, the album was released by Republic Records in tandem with their Amazon Prime Video documentary Chasing Happiness.
Happiness Begins is packed with pure pop tunes – a great pick-me-up on a bleak day. Joe and Nick have noticeably matured as vocalists, putting their best foot forward in their solos and harmonies. The lyrics are straightforward, intimate, and carry an emotional depth that their old material lacked (what can three teenage boys possibly know about love and the intricacies of romantic relationships?).
‘Cool’, along with ‘Sucker’, is definitely a summer banger — catchy, simple and memorable. Joe and Nick alternate between singing lead in the groovy synth laden ‘Only Human’, demanding you to go wild on the dance floor (So stop pretending you’re shy, just come on and/ Dance, dance, dance, dance).
‘I Believe’ is Nick’s love letter to Priyanka Chopra while Joe dedicates ‘Hesitate’ to wife, Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner. ‘Every Single Time’ captures a laid back, tropical vibe. The last one, ‘Comeback’ is one of the softer tracks, tinged with a piano riff. The energy never dips in the album, with songs like ‘Don’t Throw it Away’, ‘Trust’ and ‘Stranger’ filling it out.
However, sonically, the brothers have not strayed far away from familiar territory, including polished reiterations of recently released songs. ‘Used to Be’ replicates Post Malone’s ‘Psycho’ and ‘Love Her’ seems to borrow heavily from Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’. ‘Every Single Time’ will remind you of Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj’s risqué ‘Side to Side’ ,and ‘Rollercoaster’ seems like a musical byproduct of Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’ and any Mumford & Sons song.
Fortunately, the lack of melodic novelty was forgiven by listeners as Happiness Begins debuted at No 1 on the US Billboard 200 and even crossed the sale numbers of Taylor Swift’s Reputation (2017).
The record is an authentic reflection of who the brothers really are — simple family men, who adore the women in their lives and are here to have a good time. Craggy edges apart, Happiness Begins is a wholesome listening experience.
Listen to the album here.
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