We were here for a JoJo renaissance. No really, we were – we bloody loved the short, sharp pop placebo #LOVEJO2, despite its awful name. The thought of Mad Love had us tantalised – a full album of bangers in a world that desperately needs them? Hell yes.
So when the album starts with a ballad called Music, the signs don’t bode well. While admittedly moving – seriously lump-in-the-throat style – it’s hardly how you expect anyone to kick off a pop comeback, with even Jo’s warbling getting a little bit overwrought towards its end. An odd choice, but a forgivable one at least.
What’s less forgivable is just how bloody safe the rest of the album turns out to be. Sure she’s throwing a few F-bombs on I Can Only (“I can only fuck who I wanna fuck”) and even giving it large on Fuck Apologies, but there isn’t anything remotely fresh here. The worst aspect is that – mind switched off – this could be one of several identikit, factory line R&B-pop acts that the US has churned out over the last few years.
JoJo can do better than this record, with the title track itself a flaccid slow-jam that can’t hold a note let alone attention, damaged further by that very common dancehall-inflected delivery and chorus on Vibe. At least Honest and Like This provide some moments of creative respite, but ultimately they highlight how run-of-the-mill the rest of it is. Mad Love? We can just about muster a mild affection, but that’s about it.