The Jonas Brothers are indisputable cultural icons. Nick, Kevin, and Joe are from that golden era of Disney Channel that was overflowing with talent and dominated every kid’s mind. From hits like “Burnin’ Up” and “Year 3000” to more somber cuts like “When You Look Me In the Eyes” and “Lovebug,” the JoBros have soundtracked many childhoods. So, when the trio announced their split in 2013, the news was devastating. Little did we know that three marriages and six years later, the Jonas Brothers would return with a sublime #1 single entitled “Sucker” and projected #1 album called Happiness Begins.
“Sucker,” the band’s comeback single, the opening track of the album, and their first #1 single, is arguably the most important song of their career. When Joe embarked on his project with DNCE, their big hit was “Cake by the Ocean” a breezy Maroon 5-reminiscent jam. Nick’s solo music, on the other hand, was decidedly smoother and R&B drive. Songs like “Jealous” and “Close” were sultry bangers that revitalized his brand and career. On “Sucker,” and most of Happiness Begins, the brothers blend their respective solo musical stylings and create a blend of powerful pop hooks, R&B-influenced melodies, and rock-driven guitar riffs.
Happiness Begins is a nostalgic reflection on growing up and a hopeful look to the next stage of life. There are glittery pop tracks like “Only Human” and “Dont Throw It Away” that pride themselves of catchy hooks and catchier melodies. One of the album’s standout tracks, “Love Her,” is the sonic sibling and thematic opposite to Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” Nick and Joe both possess strong and piercing falsettos, but on this track they both opt for a more delicate vocal performance which is infinitely more interesting to listen to. By virtue of being the album’s first true ballad, “Love Her” is one of the more arresting tracks, but it’s also just plain good.
For all the high points Happiness Begins achieves, the album would have benefited from a bit of fat-trimming. There are obvious fillers like “Happy When I’m Sad” and “Strangers” that unfortunately bring dow the overall quality of the album. Happiness Begins has too many meticulously crafted pop hits to have any room for boring and tepid filler tracks. In addition, too many of the songs on Happiness Begins sound like other songs from different artists. Upon its release, “Sucker” was criticized for its sonic similarities to Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still.” Take “Rollercoaster,” for example, the penultimate success-celebrating track of Happiness Begins. The song sound like a cross between various tracks from Fun. and Mumford & Sons with a dash of Avicii. The unfortunate similarities to other tracks make it harder to establish what the “2019 Jonas Brothers” sound is.
Overall, Happiness Begins is a worthy comeback. It’s 44 minutes of cool summer fun from a group that grew up and got their groove back again.
Key Tracks: “Rollercoaster”; “Only Human”; “Comeback”; “Love Her”