By Staff Writer Naveed Shakoor
In his return to solo music since his 2016 project Last Year Was Complicated, Nick Jonas released his anticipated third studio album titled Spaceman on March 12. Jonas claims that the project is a compilation of his feelings during quarantine and a love letter to his wife Priyanka Chopra Jonas, broken into four themes — distance, indulgence, euphoria, and commitment.
Spaceman was released on March 12.
The title track was released on February 25 as the first promotional single, which successfully set the tone for the rest of the album. “Spaceman” details how Jonas feels like an astronaut in space during lockdown; trapped in his personal bubble and struggling to communicate with his wife. The lyrical content and sound in “Spaceman” remain consistent with the rest of the album. Instead of creating innovative melodies and choruses like he did with his previous hits “Jealous” and “Chains”, Jonas is seen as a follower of common pop trends. Borrowing popular aspects of 80s influenced music, Jonas creates his watered-down take on the sound with a sparse and cosmic instrumental that is lacking. Jonas’ repetition of the phrase “yeah, yeah, I’m a spaceman” throughout the chorus takes away any space for him to build lyrical depth, causing the track to feel uninspired and empty.
Jonas struggles to build structure within his songs — many of the tracks are a hodgepodge of synths and piano chords that fail to create cohesive and catchy instrumentals. He attempts to salvage the sonic coherence by seamlessly transitioning each track into the next. The synths in the outro of “Don’t Give Up On Us” flows directly into “Heights,” creating a sense of cohesion that is sonically pleasing to listeners.
Unfortunately, that sense of cohesion Jonas creates sonically is not apparent in the overall storytelling of the project. Despite deeming the album as a “concept album,” the lyrics come off as shallow and repetitive. Only two of the four themes are apparent in this album, as Jonas switches between distance and euphoria. He either discusses his passionate relationship with Chopra, or his angst towards being in isolation. In “Deeper Love,” Jonas sings “I want a deeper love, yeah/ I wanna know what it’d be like.” Instead of delving into what he means by wanting a “deeper love,” Jonas continues to repeat the same lines throughout the track. His songs fail to provide listeners with vulnerable and honest lyrics about love during a pandemic.
Nick Jonas and the muse of his new album, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, got married on Dec. 1, 2018.
The album begins to pick up with “Delicious” and “This Is Heaven,” two of the standout tracks on the album. “Delicious” succeeds in diversifying the sound of the album by trading his overused breezy synths and sensual piano chords for more interesting drum samples and trumpets. “This Is Heaven” takes the best melodic aspects of “Delicious,” but replaces the shallow lyrics with meaningful anecdotes. “Every kiss with you, it’s like your prayer falls from my lips/Now I’m a believer” paints a picture of intimate moments between Jonas and Chopra. These experimental tracks keep the listener engaged and help the album remain captivating.
Jonas performed “Spaceman” and “This Is Heaven” live on Saturday Night Live.
Spaceman’s biggest strength is Jonas’ unique vocal performance. His elastic range eases into his falsetto, which pairs well with the sensual and electro-pop sound heard throughout the project. “Sexual” benefits from Jonas’ slick voice, as his layered harmonies skitter across the piano instrumental and cut the tension created by the pulsing beats — it’s an interesting sound that suits Jonas and directly contrasts that of his punchy pop projects with his brothers.
The highs come far and few between with Spaceman. Jonas takes himself too seriously with an album that only seems to highlight his unique vocal performance. This album exposes the gaps in Jonas’ artistic process but remains a relatable diary documenting his relationship amidst the struggle of quarantine.