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Album review: Jonas Brothers' 'Lines, Vines and Trying Times'

June 15, 2009 |  3:52 pm
Jobros240__ Plenty of young pop stars have grown darker on records after a fast career ascent. Though "Lines, Vines and Trying Times" has a touch of late-teen angst about it lyrically, the Jonas Brothers' third album of sprightly and eclectic pop is unexpectedly their most easygoing and enjoyable yet. 

The refreshing thing about "Lines" is the sense that the brothers have zero hang-ups about finding authenticity through traditional rock gestures. The Jonas' have the advantage of a young fan base for whom Neil Diamond was never hokey and for whom soul has no political ramifications. So it feels natural when the trio skips from falsetto-stretching funk on "World War III" to rhinestone-cowboy country on "What Did I Do to Your Heart." It's a clean synopsis of the "I listen to everything" philosophy of today's youth, and it's in service of some worthy songwriting. 

Although the tunes are accomplished, "Lines" has a patina of smarm that's less smart than the music. Every lyric is populated with some strain of stock crazy chick character who's always starting fights out of nowhere ("World War III"), refusing to get over a breakup ("Paranoid"), giving the brothers unexplainable rashes ("Poison Ivy") or being Joe Jonas' ex Taylor Swift ("Much Better").

The Jonas Brothers have discovered many intriguing angles for realizing their songcraft talents, but they don't yet have perspective on a world outside the Jonas orbit. But that's nothing a few years and a serious, mane-tearing heartbreak won't fix one day. 

-- August Brown

Jonas Brothers
"Lines, Vines and Trying Times"
(Hollywood Records)
Two and a half stars