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Album Review

It wasn't that long ago that Joe Jonas, now 22, was known for a) being in a band with his brothers, b) his Christian faith and, c) his commitment to abstinence as evidenced by his famous (and famously mocked) purity ring.

But those days seem like a long time ago listening to his debut solo album, Fastlife. In the Sept. 7 issue of Rolling Stone, he said, "About a year and a half ago I sat down with my brothers and said, 'Listen, guys, I want to create something a little bit different than what we've been doing.'"

He's succeeded by crafting a pulsating dance tribute to the high-octane existence he's apparently living these days.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

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Pro-social Content

Love—won, in jeopardy and lost—is the dominant theme on Fastlife. And a number of tracks find Joe expressing his affection for or begging a reluctant woman to give him a chance to prove himself.

On "All This Time," he pleads, "I know you've been hurt before/ … I just want to give you love/And try to keep a smile on your face." A similar earnestness marks "Just in Love": "I'm scared of losing you/You are worth too much to lose." There's more of the same on "Take It and Run": "So many things I can't wait to show ya/Give me the chance to get to know ya/ … Here's our chance, let's/Take it and run."

On the more melancholy end of the emotional spectrum, "Not Right Now" pines for a return to better days ("We used to laugh and cry/I used to give you all my time/ … What will it take/To get everything back, OK?/'Cause I don't really wanna feel this way"). Elsewhere on the song, Joe longs for a second chance to make things right ("If it's not too late/Maybe we could change our fate/And undo all of our mistakes/ … We've come too far to give up").

"Sorry" apologizes for self-absorbed relational patterns ("I finally found the truth/I was using you").

Objectionable Content

Fastlife earns its Parental Advisory sticker for one use of the f-word by guest contributor Lil Wayne on the remixed version of "Just in Love." Singing about a woman he loves, Wayne obscenely raps, "I don't need nothing/Nothing but her/'Cause all them other b‑‑ches/Ain't f‑‑‑ing with her." A bit later he brags, "But she out of this world/We somewhere out in space/Making love like animals/Planet of the apes/All night/All morning."

Joe himself never gets quite that crude, but several problematic songs include clear references to sex. "Make You Mine" is the worst offender, as the singer falls for a girl on the dance floor whom he's never met: "Shake that, hey, that body's so right." And even though he doesn't know her name, he's ready to take her home for a night of sex ("Tell me what you want and I'll give it/Just as long as you know where we're headed/ … I wanna rock with you 'til sunrise/ ... Back to my place when it's all over/That's when I'm sober." The track also includes one use of "d‑‑n."

"Fastlife" relies on revved-up automotive metaphors to describe Joe's carnal desires. "I don't know what you're thinking/But I know what we're drinking/Let me put your night in drive." That, of course, means hooking up: "Can't see nothin' but blur lines/Hey, hey, hey/Actin' like it's your first time." Elsewhere, references to speeding and a desire for "another ride" allude further to sex.

On "Love Slayer," Joe looks forward to taming a voracious man-eater: "She's a killa/ … Stone-cold dream stealer/Love slayer/Mostly likely I'll be on my worst behavior/She'll love you up all night, but I'm ready to stay up/ … And I want more of it/ … And I think I love it." His invitation on "Take It and Run" could be heard suggestively: "I promise if you give this a try/You'll be more than satisfied/So open the door, let me in."

Summary Advisory

In her September 2011 article "Joe Jonas Comes of Age," New York Times reporter Melena Ryzik wrote, "Once a mop-topped, purity-ring-wearing Disney star alongside his brothers, Joe is moving into sleeker territory, from his physique to his piqued interest in fashion, food and other epicurean pursuits. … [Fastlife] presents the formerly virginal Jonas brother, now purity-ring-free, as a party-hopping authority."

Formerly virginal. Purity-ring-free.

Those telling phrases pretty much, sadly, say it all. Joe Jonas has evolved. Deal with it, we're told. But we'd rather not. I think for now we'll stick to wishing, If only the ready-to-commit, ready-to-take-responsibility side of Joe that we've glimpsed elsewhere could have convinced Fastlife Joe to slow down.

Plot Summary

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October 11, 2011

On Video

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Adam R. Holz

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