Album Review: Nick Jonas, ‘Last Year Was Complicated’

The return of child star Nick Jonas has been well documented. After the pitiful revamp of the Jonas Brothers back in 2013 (“Pom Poms”) and the inevitable negative reception it received, Nick Jonas stepped out of the limelight to similarly revamp his own image.

Understandably, the world was intrigued. Despite being “called out” recently for his alleged gay baiting, Jonas has acquired a mass fan base since his early Jo-Bro days. After the low-key success of his self-titled album in 2015, mostly just the single “Jealous,” Jonas has now released his sophomore LP (excluding the self titled release in 2005 when Jonas was 11) with added effects: sad, sexy, and over-the-top.

Last Year Was Complicated is a sip out of the “I Want To Be Like Justin Timberlake” solo cup all of the singled out boy band members have tried to successfully achieve since. If we’re comparing in terms of maturity, think Justified V.S. Nick Jonas, and FutureSex/LoveSounds V.S. Last Year Was Complicated

Earlier this year Jonas released the first single off of the album entitled “Close,” featuring Swedish singer Tove Lo, who hit the ground running with her own solo efforts in the last year. The dark, heavy beats are reminiscent of Drake’s Thank Me Later, but the soft, melodic voice of Tove clashes against the constricted vocals of Jonas, who succeeds in straining notes that sound clogged and forced.

“Voodoo” the opening song off the LP is interesting enough with its simple, groovy beats that it will easily land in your top five. With lyrics like: “I ain’t fucking with your voodoo,” it’s easy to understand the hype and pressure that’s shrouded Jonas since the radio success of “Jealous,” and his retaliation in the form of curse words and exotic beats as an opening.

“Chainsaw” traps the idea of every pissed off lover in pop/rap on the radio in the past ten years: Rihanna, “Take a Bow,” Eminem featuring Rihanna “Love the Way You Lie,” to name a few. “And maybe I’ll just take a chainsaw to the sofa / Where I held your body close for so long, so long / I’m gonna break the fucking china / Cause it’s just one more reminder you’re gone, you’re gone,” promises Jonas. It’s over done, too well received, but the most likely to get radio play other than its pure pop counterpart “Under You.”

In comparison, “Touch” is the most interesting of the bunch, with an acoustic beginning and a mostly A Capella chorus. It’s addicting in its simplicity and sets itself apart from the generic, problematic track like “Good Girls,” featuring Big Sean, where Jonas contemplates why all the good girls suddenly decided to be so bad while dancing up on the table, and trying to get back at their dad.

“Unhinged,” the original title of the LP before being rejected by Jay Z, lacks creativity in its execution. The track is quietly produced and sets itself up for potential before you figure out Jonas is singing about being afraid of commitment and using an unhinged door as a simile for his fears. It’s boring, over-the-top and it’s not worth a second listen.

Since we’re talking in juvenile comparisons, let’s say LYWC is an apple orchard and you’ve got to sift through for the good apples. And then you realize that you could get a whole bag of good apples at the grocery store and not have to waste your time picking through the orchard.

Nobody has time for that.

Rating: 5.5/10

If you like Nick Jonas, you can catch him on tour this summer with Demi Lovato. ‘Last Year Was Complicated’ is released through Island and Safehouse Records.

Brooke Pawling Stennett is a college student pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Creative Non-Fiction in the old Windy City. She tends to lean toward the obsessive side of the tracks when it comes to books and music. She's an avid concert attendee (or at least she tries to!) and rambler. She'd like to travel the world and write about it, but in the only ways she knows how: sarcastically and full of internet jargon. Her opinions are her best ones, especially if they involve boy-bands and Netflix. . .even though she doesn't even have her own account. You can tweet her at @br_stennett and tell her how ridiculous (and totally great!) her opinions are.