Release Date: Jun 10, 2016
Record label: Island
If you, like Nick Jonas, are a pop star, and last year was uncomplicated — if it was rote, perhaps, or merely pleasant — fire your team. Complication is the playing field. The game is embedding those complications into your art, or standing by while fans and critics do this for you. The title of Jonas’ sophomore secular effort, Last Year Was Complicated — chosen with Hova’s assist — nods to the first strategy.
The failure of Nick Jonas's self-titled debut to render love's disappointments as convincingly as its ecstasies is reason enough to be skeptical of Last Year Was Complicated, a self-described breakup album (Jonas split from former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo last June). But while the new set is heavier on heartache than Nick Jonas was, it's worth noting it isn't quite as mopey as the “breakup” tag usually suggests. In fact, Last Year Was Complicated offers an even more vibrant collection of colorful, propulsive beats than Nick Jonas did.
Last year may have been complicated for Nick Jonas -- at the very least, he separated from his girlfriend Olivia Culpo in the summer of 2015 -- but Last Year Was Complicated feels assured in a way its eponymous 2014 predecessor did not. Nick Jonas refashioned the former Jonas Brother as a mature artist, a singer whose sensibilities now adhered to sensual R&B and slick club music. Produced in part with some of the same collaborators as the 2014 LP -- Jason Evigan maintains a large role, as does Sir Nolan -- Last Year Was Complicated uses the hits "Chains" and "Jealous" as touchstones, expanding their cool, glassy shimmer to songs of heartbreak, doubt, and loss.
Toward the close of 2014, Nick Jonas was thrusted pelvis-first back into the pop stratosphere. His eponymous second album introduced a rebooted youngest Jonas brother, with comeback singles “Chains,” “Levels,” and “Jealous” offering a “blue-eyed soul with brown eyes” aesthetic steeped in a sexy “tossing the purity ring” sound. With his third studio album, Nick Jonas keeps the pace going.
Nick Jonas is talking up his third full-length as a look back at his two-year relationship with former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, which fizzled out last June. As on any breakup album, regret and frustration predominate, and there are even flashes of bitterness, but the rhythms here are too brisk to give Jonas a chance to sulk. Sticking with what works, Jonas reunites with the producers behind his biggest singles.
Single, sad and highly sexed, Nick Jonas wrote his third solo album in the wake of a breakup and the dawn of his dating exploration. It ushers in a sound best described as bachelor pop. Much like Zayn’s R&B debut, the Disney channel graduate and former Jonas Brother maintains mainstream music’s flirtation with melancholy and leftfield lyrics.
Last year was a big one for the most beloved Jonas Brothers alum: Riding high off the success of monster pop hits “Chains” and “Jealous” Nick re-released his self-titled sophomore album with another engaging single, “Levels”. For a minute, it looked like Nick Jonas was positioning himself as the next Justin Timberlake, a former child star able to break away from his bubblegum aesthetic and demonstrate real artistic merit that still functions in a pop context. Timberlake collaborator Jay Z seemed to believe in that cause, as he supposedly felt that this was Jonas’ destiny and wanted to help guide him towards it.