It’s hard to think of a delightfully stupider song from the past year than “Cake by the Ocean.” With its nonsense metaphors, goofy come-ons, and random pop-culture references, the track was the equivalent of binging a silo of Pringles: empty calories, sure, but lots of fun once you gave in. DNCE didn’t pretend to be out for anything more than a good time, and that lack of self-seriousness made “Cake” a Top 10 hit—and also suggested that of all the Jonas Brothers, it was perhaps Joe, not Nick, who was most likely destined for Timberlakian success.
Now with a self-titled debut, this glorified solo project—Jonas co-wrote most of the songs with a top-notch team of Swedish songwriters, not his bandmates—isn’t quite sure where to go next. There are several “Cake” clones, whose hand claps and pipe-cleaner bass lines can get repetitive. And then there are jarring, ballad-y numbers that try to show off a new side of the band, yet seem better suited for an entirely different project. Thankfully, the group ultimately finds its groove with retro, funk-heavy tracks like new single “Body Moves” and “Blown,” which is about exactly what you imagine it is. It’s better for the band—and everyone else—when they don’t overthink it.