“Sucker” Marks the Unexpectedly Great Return of the Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers reuniting is surprising, yet inevitable.

Firmly ensconced in this nostalgia culture we are, of course the pre-One Direction phenoms would want to tap into the well of millennial adoration that songs like “SOS” and “Burnin’ Up” inspire. And yet, each of the brothers are in completely different, disparate stages of their lives and careers: the eldest Kevin effectively retired to domestic bliss with wife Danielle; middle bro Joe found success with DNCE and their hit “Cake by the Ocean”, and is engaged to Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner. And then there is Nick, the youngest and most poised for solo stardom: he reinvented himself into a R&B-tinged, multi-hyphenate sex machine, with hits like “Jealous” and “Chains”, roles on Scream Queens and Kingdom, a highly-publicized marriage last year to actress Priyanka Chopra, and enough Instagram thirst traps to last a lifetime. Considering the divergent career paths they’ve taken, some skepticism of why they’ve reformed is fair.

“Sucker”, their first record in a decade, makes a solid case. It’ll be a comfort to fans of the trio that they’ve kept their pop-rock stylings, instead of adopting the influences of their solo careers. However, they aren’t ignorant to the current state of popular music; “Sucker” borrows from Portugal. The Man and other alt-pop acts to contextualize their sprightly take on the love-lorn guy falling for the beautiful girl. It isn’t much of a departure from their past hits lyrically, but there is a sexual charge that was absent from their flat-ironed, chastity-ringed past. The updated, modern sound suits them well, and they sound great together. Not that Nick wasn’t convincing as a pop-R&B crooner, but he sounds more at ease over a guitar riff than he ever did over a pulsing beat. His falsetto, in particular, has never sounded better. Maybe having Joe to play off of helped: the two have great chemistry, and their harmonies over the bridge are ace. Kevin is no slouch either, providing that killer guitar riff grounding their comeback.

It’s rare that a pop band reforms for a reason beyond their flagging relevance. It’s even rarer that they improve upon their initial output (British pop band Take That comes to mind). And yet here the Jonas Brothers are, each married or engaged, dancing around an English countryside performing arguably the best song of their career (solo or otherwise). 2019 has been filled with unwelcome surprises so far; I appreciate Nick, Joe and Kevin breaking the trend.

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