It's About Time

by: Jonas Brothers

It's impossible to talk about the Jonas Brothers and their 2006 debut, It's About Time, without discussing Hanson. Like Hanson, the Jonas Brothers are not only a trio of siblings -- ranging in age from 17 to 13 at the time of the release of their first album -- who play their own instruments and write (some of) their own songs; they have a relentlessly sunny spirit that hearkens back to the classic '60s and '70s pop as heard on Time-Life compilations. If Hanson learned this sound from those original Time-Life collections, the Jonas Brothers picked up the strand from Hanson and then went to Hot Topic, creating a bubblegum type of mall punk that's considerably heavier on the bubblegum than the punk. But that's not the only difference -- where Hanson worked with such hipsters as the Dust Brothers, the Jonas Brothers work with studio pros Michael Mangini and Steve Greenberg, who both did production work for Joss Stone and help bring a similarly slick but consciously classic vibe to It's About Time as they did to the retro-soul of Joss Stone. Despite these hints of commercial punk flair, the Jonas Brothers are at their core Hanson for the new millennium -- and since Steve Greenberg was the executive producer of that trio's 1997 debut, Middle of Nowhere, that shouldn't come as too big of a surprise, but if you go into It's About Time not knowing any of this, it's kind of a shock to hear 11 fizzy singalongs that sound like reworkings of "MMMBop." Of course, that's hardly a bad thing, since at its best, bubblegum has an effervescence that transcends generations, something that the Jonas Brothers come close to achieving here. They're a likeable bunch of kids singing likeable, ingratiating melodies that are perhaps a little too sweet but are still irresistible -- a little bit like a Hostess Cup Cake. And like a Hostess Cup Cake, if you think about it too much, this album does show some signs of being mass produced: the choruses seem a little bit too close to Kidz Bop territory, the professionally written songs about school and girls are too crassly cutesy, and "Year 3000" in particular grates, from its maddeningly vague lyrics ("We drove around in a time machine/Like the one in the film I've seen") to its obsession on their own success and how "This song had gone multi-platinum/Everybody bought our seventh album/It had outsold Kelly Clarkson," as if their seventh album -- which would be delivered in 2024 if they take three years between records -- would still have an impact when they're no longer in their teens, or when there are no longer albums for that matter (never mind that if people are still talking about the Jonas Brothers and Kelly Clarkson in the year 3000, that means their work has lasted longer than Shakespeare has to this day, but that's perhaps nitpicking). But, if you don't think about it too hard -- and, really, you shouldn't -- It's About Time is a fun debut, with more hooks than most teen-oriented music in 2006. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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