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Jonas Brothers: LIVE

jonas brothersJonas Brothers
LIVE
(Jonas Enterprises)

“You can’t break up a band of brothers.”

That’s what the three Jonases said to their fans in an open letter back in 2009 when rumors of their breakup were spurred by youngest brother and creative leader, Nick, deciding to record a solo album and oldest brother and mostly dead weight, Kevin, getting married. The Brothers Jonas reassured their legions of fans that this was just a temporary hiatus, and that before long, the three would be back together again making more of their infectious melodies for us. Four years, two solo albums, and two seasons of a reality show later and the ol’ band was back together with their new single, “Pom Poms.” Throughout 2013, the band seemed to be gaining momentum again. They were on tour, putting out some cool songs with a more mature sound, and slated to release their aptly-titled fifth album, V, before the year was done. But then the unthinkable happened. Just days before their fall tour–to which I had tickets, mind you–they canceled the shows. Rumors started again but their fans remembered their rallying cry from years ago, “You can’t break up a band of brothers.”

But this time, it was true. Kevin, Nick, and Joe finally decided it was time. Who knows what will happen in the future, but for now, we’re left with a final parting gift: 10 live songs from their summer tour and four brand new tracks from the now-aborted V.

LIVE opens with the ten live tracks from an L.A. gig. They play through their two new singles, “Pom Poms” and “First Time,” (which could have and should have been a massive radio hit this year) as well as their old standards like the diabetes ballad “A Little Bit Longer,” the quirky “Love Bug,”  and the futuristic pop smash “Paranoid,” as well as a brief cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin’ Bout You.” The brothers sound just as precise as ever, but with an added edge and maturity. These aren’t little boys playing for The Mouse anymore; they’re slightly bigger boys with their own label and no purity rings. For long time fans, this short set of material is a great keepsake, a snapshot of a special moment in the Jonas timeline. For skeptics or casual fans, the live performances should be enough to convince that these guys ended at the top of their game.

And the new studio material is the same. “Found” and “The World” have a light-rock/John Mayer vibe, similar to what Nick did with his Nick Jonas and the Administration album. “Wedding Bells” is a bit darker and more spacious, with a Gotye xylophone and a Coldplay-sized chorus about hearing that your ex (Miley Cyrus in this case) is getting married. Closing out the set is “What Do I Mean,” which is definitely the heaviest and noisiest we’ve seen the group. The songs are a departure from the pop-punk, cutesy image that we’ve become familiar with. Even their stylistic experimentation on the last full-length effort, Lines, Vines, and Trying Times, had the youthful buoyancy of their earlier material that’s absent here. On the surviving V tracks, the brothers are less concerned with optimism and glossy images of idealized adolescence, but their song-craft is as strong as ever. The songs are produced with an excitingly fresh sound and the melodies are just as memorable as anything from their Radio Disney days.

It’s hard to believe that this break-up will last forever, but the quality of the songs on LIVE make it upsetting that we won’t be getting anything from these three brothers for quite a while.

The album can be downloaded here.

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About Scott Interrante

Scott Interrante currently studies Musicology at CUNY Hunter College where he focuses on issues of gender in pop music. He also writes for PopMatters, The Absolute, and Dear Song In My Head. Scott is an avid Taylor Swift fan and is currently re-watching all of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.
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