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Smooth Bananas: ‘Spaceman’

Nick Jonas is a superstar in many people’s ears and mind, but “Spaceman” suffers quite greatly from the desire to fly to high. 

The album, produced by Greg Kurstin and distributed by label Island, is the singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album. The album features 11 tracks of lengths ranging from two to three minutes. The deluxe edition of the album increases the total number of tracks to 16 including a guest appearance by Nick’s brothers Joe and Kevin. This deluxe edition also includes “chill versions” of tracks on the album. The album is also the first solo release by Nick Jonas since the reunion of his current band, the Jonas Brothers. 

Nick Jonas has by far been the most tenacious and ambitious of the Jonas Brothers. Joe maintained something of a solo career, Kevin faded from the public eye quite quickly after the band’s initial dissolution, and most people often forget their younger brother Frankie Jonas even exists. Nick has made quite a name for himself as a solo act. He’s acted in television and movies, coached and judged on the singing competition “The Voice,” acted on Broadway, and dropped four albums of his own. His continual seat in the spotlight has gained him a great following. 

Unlike many of his compatriots in celebrity, Jonas did not flop relation to people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if the album is not as great as it could be, Jonas should get accolades for leaning into the shared experience that the entire world has had to deal with and is still dealing with. The album is divided into quarters based on various themes such as distance, indulgence, and commitment. Jonas has talked before about the album’s approach and these sonic quadrants are integral to the album. Unfortunately for Jonas, the album starts to sound like a self-help book to get one through the pandemic safely and sanely. I’m not sure if this is purely because of the sequence or the content but after a listen, you feel assured, but you aren’t sure if you should be while listening to a sex symbol like Nick Jonas. 

Frankly, Jonas is just trying too hard. The basis of the album is likeable enough without the almost philosophical approach to writing an album. With his producer Kurstin, Jonas leans heavily into a more literal storytelling aspect on this album. The album’s title comes into full focus when Jonas employs modular synths typical of both “Tron” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” and forlorn radio signals. The album’s format centers it as a vessel for a collection of singles rather than a cohesive work. 

Jonas has a few showstoppers on the album. However, he can’t keep this buzz up. The album’s second half is quite the slog through philosophical musings on commitment. The singer’s attempts at being relatable in this regard feel entirely too heavy handed. He namedrops Marvin Gaye but preserves none of the swagger and sway from the R&B artist. 

“Spaceman” is certainly an album worth listening to but mainly just as a background or workout music. “Spaceman” receives a C rating. 

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