Last year may have been complicated for Nick Jonas -- at the very least, he separated from his girlfriend Olivia Culpo in the summer of 2015 -- but Last Year Was Complicated feels assured in a way its eponymous 2014 predecessor did not. Nick Jonas refashioned the former Jonas Brother as a mature artist, a singer whose sensibilities now adhered to sensual R&B and slick club music. Produced in part with some of the same collaborators as the 2014 LP -- Jason Evigan maintains a large role, as does Sir Nolan -- Last Year Was Complicated uses the hits "Chains" and "Jealous" as touchstones, expanding their cool, glassy shimmer to songs of heartbreak, doubt, and loss. Wisely, Jonas and his collaborators decide not to lean too hard on Nick's vocals: his appeal lies not in his range, but his thin vulnerability, a quality that tends to humanize the steely gloss of the production. Beneath the sheets of sound, Jonas seems sensitive, a sensibility that carries over even into the heavy club bangers "Voodoo" and "Champagne Problems," lending them a little lightness. Still, he flourishes on the unabashed pop numbers -- specifically "Under You," written in part with Max Martin -- and the ballads, where this quivering capacity for masculine heartbreak is pushed to the forefront. "Close," a duet with Tove Lo, is perhaps the best showcase for this aspect of Nick Jonas, but the entirety of Last Year Was Complicated walks a fine line between immaculately produced pop confection and personal confession: it may not be heartbreaking but it feels as if it comes from the heart.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine