An Album a Day: Happiness Begins

June 8, Happiness Begins by Jonas Brothers

Genre: Pop that would be in a Corona commercial. 
Year: 2009
Runtime: 43:44
Total Number of Tracks: 14
Songs you might know:
– “Sucker”
– “Cool”

My prior relationship with the album: This is one of the few albums I’m reviewing for Album a Day that is brand spanking new, so I really don’t have much of a prior relationship with it. That being said, I did eagerly listen to “Sucker” when it dropped earlier this year and it gave me rather high hopes for the Jonas Brothers comeback. The follow-up single, “Cool” seemed underwhelming by comparison, but certainly not bad.

 My impression this time around: One of the first things that really struck me about Happiness Begins is how it is an unapologetically pop album. There was a part of me that wasn’t sure if I should expect a sound similar to the Disney-fied pop punk the brothers made back in the day or if they were simply going to leave the past in the past, and they definitely did the latter. For better or worse, the Jonas Brothers don’t even try to sound like their prior incarnation. Your opinion of Nick’s solo work and Joe’s band, DNCE, are far better indicators of how you’ll feel about Happiness Begins than your opinions of prior Jonas Brothers albums.

Personally, I think their direction for this album was a smart choice. Released in early June, the album SCREAMS summertime, with a reggae-infused R&B pop sound far better suited for chilling on a beach with your favorite alcoholic beverage than it is for a nightclub. It’s a sound they do quite well, and I really admire how Happiness Begins feels so current, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like a cheap knock off of other pop stars either. It’s special in its own way, but still has the broad appeal one expects of the pop genre.

“Sucker” and “Cool” do a great job of conveying the spectrum of that beach-y pop sound. The album offers a near perfect balance of energetic songs such as “Sucker” and low-key chill-out songs like “Cool,” with enough middle ground to tie everything together and feel cohesive. There’s a great flow to it as well. We never get too many fast songs in a row or too many slow songs in a row, allowing us to really feel each track’s unique offerings without it feeling too similar to other tracks of the album. The result is a record where even some of the more forgettable tracks (“Every Single Time,” “Trust,” “Strangers”) are still tracks I’m excited to listen to during a full-album. listen with no urge to push the skip button. Pop is a genre where it’s relatively easy to get bored after a few listens, so I’ve been incredibly impressed with how I’ve grown to appreciate Happiness Begins the more I listen to it.

“Rollercoaster” was one of the first songs that really stuck out to me as a true gem of the album, a song I would recommend everyone listen to even if the rest of the album doesn’t sound like your cup of tea. It balances this feeling of nostalgia for the past and optimism for the future, making it ideal for a comeback album. It felt so fitting I was actually shocked to learn that none of the Jonas Brothers having writing credits on it. “Don’t Throw It Away” is another favorite, which is that Tegan & Sara-esque pop that is very synth heavy while still being emotional in all the right ways. And as mentioned above, even songs that I’m not going out of my way to listen to individually all still have their purpose on the album and enhance the listening experience.

Who would enjoy it? I think anyone who has even the slightest soft spot for mainstream pop music should give this one a chance. It’s a true ALBUM that is greater than the sum of its parts, and so I’d love to see it be a success and have a legacy as a wonderful cohesive, piece of art rather than just being the album with “Sucker” on it.

Other Jonas Brothers album reviews:
Jonas Brothers
A Little Bit Longer
Lines, Vines and Trying Times

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