Album review: DNCE by DNCE is a credit to Joe Jonas
Three-and-a-half stars In any other year, the reinvention of Joe Jonas might have been quite a story, rather than just more 2016 weirdness.
When Kanye is suddenly posing with president-elect Donald Trump, a Jonas brother turning cool seems positively predictable. The Jonas Brothers, for anyone who managed to miss them, were a Disney-backed trio who made Hanson look edgy in comparison, until they disbanded in 2013.
The catalyst for Joe’s revival is a new band, DNCE, formed with music pals Jack Lawless, JinJoo Lee and Cole Whittle.
Expectations were low, initially. Then late last year, they released Cake by the Ocean, a likeable anthem that built slowly, but by the middle of this year had become an absolute monster. That song was such an unexpected smash that DNCE pushed back their debut album release, aware that people might now be interested.
The extra time and work has paid off, as DNCE is enormous fun, chock-full of exactly what you hope for when buying an album as a result of one big hit: more of the same.
It might have been different, and darker. Nirvana and Pearl Jam were reportedly DNCE inspirations, yet rock is surprisingly absent. There is a tiny guitar solo on the chirpy Good Day, while Truthfully has a whiff of Extreme’s schmaltzy More Than Words – otherwise, this is upbeat pop territory.
That is not to say DNCE is tame. The attempted sound often suggests Prince meeting Nile Rodgers-era Daft Punk. The lyrics are invariably suggestive, if inclusively inexplicit.
“Baby, you don’t have to rush, you can leave a toothbrush,” Jonas croons, on Toothbrush.
Teachers might not be impressed, though. If you wondered about the band name, the title track explains all. “You better D-N-C-E, dance,” sings Jonas, as if actively trying to annoy his old English teacher.
Look beyond the new-band rebrand, though, and this is really the Joe show. He did much of the writing, and sings – often impressive – lead vocals throughout, so DNCE largely smacks of a solo album.
To his credit, that gear change has worked perfectly. DNCE definitely does not stand for dunce.