Like Justin Timberlake before him, Joe Jonas is trying to graduate from world-beating teen-pop megagroup to full-grown solo artist. How exactly is Jonas doing it? By trying to be Justin Timberlake. On Fastlife, he chucks the power pop he played with his bros for “sexy” blue-eyed soul, complete with slinky production and lyrics like “I know what we’re drinking/Let me put your night in drive.” As a vocalist and a presence, Jonas is a flop.
Unlike his brother Nick Jonas, whose first solo album was an attempt to present Nick as a serious musician in the Stevie Wonder/Winwood tradition, Joe Jonas wholeheartedly embraces pop life on his own debut, 2011’s Fastlife. Filled with stomping R&B beats and smears of fat hands-in-the-air synths, aching vocals, and radio-ready production tricks, this is a record made for the clubs and the radio. Very modern clubs and radio, since unlike Nick, who looked to the '70s for inspiration, Joe looks all the way back to the 2000s and Justin Timberlake for his main inspiration.
Kevin got married; Nick played the blues. So how does the middle JoBro tell us he’s grown up? By threatening to stay up all night. (How naughty!) Produced in large part by Danja, who worked on Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, the club-friendly Fastlife largely favors the FutureSex — ”I’m loving that frame,” Joe drools on ”Make You Mine” — yet it’s the LoveSounds, as on gorgeous ballad ”Sorry,” that most impress.
With Bieber fever finally starting to wane, and with Justin Timberlake still busy doing his try-hard movie-star thing, Top 40 radio currently has a space for a young male pop star with A-list producers and a vague R&B influence. Enter Joe Jonas and his solo debut, Fastlife, in an attempt to make the rare successful transition from tween idol to pop lothario, and with producers like Rob Knox, Brian Kennedy, and Danja at the mixing board, and a halfway decent slate of contemporary pop tunes, Fastlife surprisingly gives Jonas a decent shot at pulling off that difficult jump. One of the major problems with the Jonas Brothers’ albums was their insistence in placing Joe’s constipated yelp of a voice front and center on almost every track.
POP The middle Jonas brother flips the boys’ Disney reputation on its head with his club-oriented solo debut that suggests he lost his purity ring somewhere while counting his millions. The disc is sharply produced by Danja, among others, and is filled with propulsive electronic beats and plenty of sexual innuendo. A lot of it is very influenced by prime Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.