Now on his fourth album, there’s probably no arguing at this point that Nick Jonas is the Jonas Brother who made it. His star power is undeniable, and his status as a household name is probably assured for years to come. Having the bar high set for himself might ultimately be what makes his latest release, Spaceman, a frustrating listen.
With Spaceman (★★☆☆☆), Jonas joins an ever-growing list of artists who have put out a pandemic album — not only an album that happened to come out during a pandemic, but one that is preoccupied with its isolating and alienating effects. In the opening few tracks, he returns frequently to the feeling of being physically and emotionally cut off from humanity.
The title track goes beyond the metaphorical with lyrics like, “And the numbers are high, but we keep going down/’Cause we ain’t supposed to live with nobody around.” To Jonas’ credit, keeping his focus on isolation writ large allows him to avoid the painful “we’re all in this together” grasp for relatability that other celebs with a similar profile have attempted and fallen on their faces over.
With its timely concept and light sci-fi vibes, the title track turns out to be the highlight of an otherwise sleepy album. Out of its four “acts,” “Distance,” “Indulgence,” “Euphoria,” and “Commitment,” the first one sounds most true to its concept. After that, the album loses focus.
There’s no denying Jonas brings an endearing earnestness to everything he does, and tracks like “2Drunk” and “Sexual” are charming, but the faux-innocence he sometimes affects is laid on so thick that it feels disingenuous. Jonas has more success with “Delicious,” a fun, funky pop track full of a playfulness that could have made for a more fun album had he leaned into it.
While the middle portion of the album meanders, the final chapter, “Commitment,” is even less focused and brings the mood down with its sleepy self-seriousness. “Death Do Us Part” in particular is bogged down by nonsensical yet earnestly delivered lyrics. As anticlimactic as “Nervous” is as a closer, five bonus tracks follow it on the deluxe version of the album, which is the one that most listeners will probably end up hearing anyway.
The other Jonas brothers, Kevin and Joe, join him on “Selfish,” a track that sounds like what it is — a little Jonas Brothers reunion tour that will probably give anyone who grew up on them a blast of nostalgia.
Spaceman can’t quite decide if it wants to be an album about an isolating pandemic, Jonas’ doe-eyed love for Priyanka Chopra, or both. Ultimately, it ends up being a work that seems to want to say something but in the end says nothing much about anything in particular.
Nick Jonas certainly has the charisma, drive, and access to A-list talent around him to come up with a record that would not only define his career but would also be genre-defining as well. Despite its charm, the thought-provoking subject of its title track, and a few standout moments, Spaceman is just not that album.
Spaceman is available to stream and purchase now.
Read More Reviews:
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!