Let's go back to 2006. Aside from a small crowd, nobody had really heard of the Jonas Brothers. Their miserably unsuccessful debut, It's About Time, consisted of corny love songs and childish pop anthems. Columbia Records, their initial label, quickly cut ties with the group and will probably regret doing it for years to come. Now jump two years into the future to the present and the Jonas Brothers have built an empire. Starring in movies and an upcoming Disney TV series doesn't even begin to cover it. Now their latest record, A Little Bit Longer, is poised to become one of the best selling records in all of music for 2008. So does it really deserve all the attention?
If there's one big difference between A Little Bit Longer and its predecessors, it's the incredible maturity that's taken place both musically and lyrically - and it's for the better. Opening track "BB Good" features heavy laden guitar breakaways that you would actually expect to find on a through and through rock record. "Burnin Up" seemingly emulates the sounds of any song by mainstream act Maroon 5. And if that was the goal, it was reached. One track with a literal message that hits hard is "Video Girl," which lashes out at superficial lifestyles and false intentions. The line "It's gonna suck when the camera stops rolling" may include a poor word selection, but at the same time is a strong choice of words for the strong message that goes along with the song (although a select few will choose to be offended). Perhaps the most surprising twist that the album takes is the song "Lovebug," an acoustically layered, Beach Boys-reminiscent slow tune that is an uncharacteristic move by the Jonas Brothers, but it works, and is also one of A Little Bit Longer's standouts. Other positives include the sincerity of "Sorry," and particularly "A Little Bit Longer," the Nick Jonas penned ballad referring to his struggle and outlook on life with type 1 diabetes. The track, which includes the line "So I'll wait til kingdom come/ all the highs and lows are gone," proves to be extremely relatable to listeners and is the perfect closing track.
Criticism falls, as is typical with the Jonas Brothers, on the short-coming of faith based tracks coming from a faith filled bunch of siblings. Although their father Kevin Jonas Sr. quoted in a recent Rolling Stone interview that "I kind of cringe every time I read references of them being a Christian band, for the simple reason that they don't sing Christian music," I wonder where the harm is in turning to God for answers during a troubled relationship on a few tracks? Their audience has arrived, and it's time for witnessing at some level through their music to begin. But if the previous two albums are any indication of where they stand on this issue, the trend is likely to continue, unfortunately.
Final thoughts shine a positive light overall. The excessive pop sounds from last year's Jonas Brothers are diminished and only linger in one or two tracks. If the Jonas Brothers manage to hold on to their faith to provide them a light in the midst of Hollywood's darkness, the door is wide open for their success to continue.- Review date: 8/17/08, written by Logan Leasure of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Walt Disney Records
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