You do sometimes have to wonder whether Nick, Kevin and Joe Jonas ever sleep. In the last year, we’ve had the 3D movie and subsequent soundtrack, the Jonas’ written Demi Lovato’s record and the J.O.N.A.S. tv show – and work is underway on Camp Rock 2. This could of course mean that after the uber success of last album proper ‘A Little Bit Longer’, they might decide to rest on their laurels with fourth album proper, the brilliantly titled ‘Lines, Vines & Trying Times’. Not a bit of it.
If you’ve been following the exclusive Facebook webcasts you’ll know that the band has employed a string section for this record, giving it a much bigger sound as well as summoning the services of a massive female star who was kept a secret until the album’s release.
Album opener ‘World War III’ features great rock guitar and a screechingly attitude filled Nick vocal. It’s brilliant and leads into the album’s two singles, the on edge ‘Paranoid’ and the Peter Pan tribute, ‘Fly With Me’. Other highlights are the stomping ‘Poison Ivy’ featuring a chorus that wriggles around in your head like an epileptic worm and the beautiful ‘Black Keys’, which is essentially this album’s ‘When You Look Me In The Eyes’. Beautiful.
Already getting column inches, ‘Much Better’ is a great track that focuses on fame and the ups and downs that have come with it, pointedly focussing on relationships. ‘Now I’ve got some enemies, and they’re all friends suddenly, BBFs eternally I’m not bitter.’ Um, I think maybe you are Joe, even thought sonically it’s one of the most up tempo on the album the lyrics are cutting, even taking a direct swipe at Joe’s ex Taylor Swift with the lines ‘Now I’m done with superstars and all the tears on her guitar, I’m not bitter’. Man, I’d hate to hear him when he is bitter!
When 30 seconds of ‘Beyond The Storm’ were premiered on the webcasts, it sounded like a great Nick ballad, but was made more interesting when it was revealed there would be a special guest vocalist. Now obviously after ‘Much Better’, it seemed unlikely that Joe would be on his cell to Taylor Swift anytime soon, so the smart money was on Demi Lovato who was a touring partner and whose album the boys worked on. Then came the Jonas Brothers curve ball…’Beyond The Storm’ is actually a duet between Nick Jonas and ex-girlfriend Miley Cyrus, added extra pathos, emotion and power. Ouch.
No, it’s not all ballads, there’s the country tinged ‘What Did I Do To Your Heart’, which is apparently Kevin’s favourite track and wouldn’t be out of place on Taylor’s ‘Fearless’ ironically. Then there’s ‘Don’t Charge Me For The Crime’ – this is the track most likely to surprise people, at least those willing to open their minds and see Jonas as more than clean cut boys. It’s the story of Nick getting involved in a car chase after helping a friend who it turns out pulled off an armed robbery. It features guest rapping from Common and is a storming attitude filled track.
This is followed by the brittle and beautiful ‘Turn Right’ – strings, a heartfelt Nick performance (“You might fall off the track sometimes, but I’ll see you on the finish line”) and a definite tearjerker, which shows the variety on show, coming directly after the Common collaboration.
For the first time, Lines Vines & Trying Times sees a Jonas Brothers album coming out simultaneously worldwide and with the world tour already sold out (including a Wembley show that is currently seeing tickets on the net going for up to 200 pounds…) it can only see them getting bigger, if that’s possible. And they deserve every ounce of it, no matter what your soulless ill-informed friend flogging his ‘cooler’ bands may tell you. There’s a reason why they are the biggest band in the world and it isn’t the Disney dollar – put simply ‘Lines, Vines & Trying Times’ is a fucking brilliant pop record, unlikely to be rivalled this year.