You guys. We all slept on Joe Jonas.
I know I did.
I got into a pseudo-intellectual hipster conversation about pop music last night with some douchewang in some dive on the Lower East Side…because this is what happens when I have too much booze and too little gays to flirt with and he said Fastlife was a good album.
Well, color me shocked and amazed because I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I mean, Joe is nothing special. Truth be told, Justin Bieber is a better vocalist, straight-up, but this album works better than anything the Biebs could do because, shallow as it is, Joe has sex appeal. Justin looks simultaneously too much like a lesbian and too much like a 12 year old to make sexy pop music sound anything but uncomfortable to the over-15 crowd. Joe is a more worthy successor to the pop-R&B crown that Timberlake has cast aside for Hollywood.
Fastlife managed to achieve something very few pop albums did this year: cohesion. Of the eleven tracks, Joe has a hand in writing 8 of them and the album is pretty evenly split between Nathaniel “Danja” Hills and LaShawn Daniels handling the production duties. The songs go by in an electro-pop update of everything that was great about R&B 10 years ago—Big bass, skittering beats, hooky choruses, and lush background vocal arrangement. It feels modern, but familiar at the same time, owing in no small part to the fact that Danja and Daniels made their names working with Timbaland and Darkchild, respectively, so the album definitely has legacy heavyweight stamp of approval.
The album opens with a one-two punch of “All This Time” produced by Danja, a track full of heavy bass and Timbaland-lite rhythms complete with a catchy chorus, and “Just In Love” produced by Daniels, with an update of the schizo percussion tracks of the mid 00’s reminiscent of J-Lo, Destiny’s Child, and Christina Milian’s best production. ”See No More” is another standout track with Chris Brown taking over the production from the masters and providing some trademark backgrounds with a lot of autotune effects to support Joe’s vocal delivery. The intro of “Love Slayer” is almost identical to Madonna's “Get Together” and the groove of the song stays right in that pocket, while the title track cranks up the energy and almost makes you miss Justin Timberlake and wish for a teen pop boyband resurgence. Both “Sorry” and “Not Right Now” bring to mind a more mature Justin Beiber with great background harmonies and surprisingly soulful leads from Jonas.
In the end, Fastlife isn’t going to change the current pop formula of a little electro with a little bass and a little R&B flavor to make radio-worthy ear candy, but by settling in with a core team and writing his own songs, Jonas made a an album you can put on and listen to from nose to tail and never feel bored, uncomfortable, or annoyed. Given the current climate of a few good singles with a lot of album filler, that’s a pretty big accomplishment, and even moreso because one of the Jonas Brothers managed to do it.
Score: 4 out of 5.
"See No More"
"Just In Love"
"All This Time"
[Flash 9 is required to listen to audio.]
"Not Right Now"
"Take It and Run"
10:10 pm • 20 December 2011 •
| album reviews| joe jonas| fastlife| pop| music| audio tracks| music videos| see no more| just in love| all this time| love slayer| not right now| take it and run|