CD Review of A Little Bit Longer by The Jonas Brothers
Recommended if you like
Hanson, Jesse McCartney,
the Click Five
Label
Hollywood
The Jonas Brothers:
A Little Bit Longer

Reviewed by Jeff Giles

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H
ere’s the bad news, rock purists: It’s the Jonas Brothers’ world, we’re just living in it, and A Little Bit Longer will almost certainly be one of the top-selling albums of 2008. The good news, however, is that they’ve apparently been listening to the same records you grew up on. They don’t know what to do with those classic albums yet, but hey – at least it’s a step in the right direction.

As you might know if you have not-quite-teenagers in your life – or if you’ve leafed through any of the countless Jonas Brothers profiles making the rounds in current issues of Rolling Stone and its competitors – the three Disney-backed dreamboats (lead singer Nick, 15; co-frontman Joe, 18; and guitar-slinging oldest Jonas, 20-year-old Kevin) are the promise ring-wearing BFFs of labelmate and fellow tween kingpin Miley Cyrus, offering young listeners an ostensible gateway drug into the pleasures of good old-fashioned rock & roll.

That’s the story, anyway, and judging from the raft of positive-to-rapturous reviews that have greeted A Little Bit Longer, you’d guess the Brothers were a Cheap Trick for the digital-music generation. By virtue of simple lack of competition for that role, the comparison may be more or less apt; unfortunately, it’s Lap of Luxury-era Trick that the Jonases are channeling here, only they didn’t even have the common courtesy to come up with a guilty pleasure like “The Flame.”

The album is amiable enough, in the annoying, overly polished way that so many modern pop releases are. Everything about Longer – the songs’ soaring, garishly produced choruses, the needlessly busy arrangements, the requisite track that starts and ends with “spontaneous” studio chatter – has been crafted to get across the message that the Jonas Brothers are ready to rock, but only if that’s okay with you, and probably not much later than 9:30.

All of which is fine – perhaps desirable, even – for music targeted to this demographic. A Little Bit Longer is clearly being positioned as the Brothers’ crossover record, though, and in that context, it falls mostly flat. It isn’t as pre-fab as some of the other stuff that has tried to pass for pop music – being a Jonas means playing and writing your own stuff, albeit with plenty of assistance from studio ringers – and they at least have the decency to keep their songs short and snappy, clocking these 12 tracks in under 40 minutes. But what’s left has little staying power and even less to say – and the songs aren’t done any favors by a typically brittle mixing job from Chris Lord-Alge that throws Nick’s pubescent growl under the harshest, most unforgiving light.

Your kids could certainly listen to worse. But they could do a lot better, too – even Miley Cyrus’ latest album is less mannered and more charming than A Little Bit Longer. Why not just buy the tykes copies of This Year’s Model and At Budokan instead?

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