To understand how fun. got where they are today, you would have have to go back to The Format. You would have to go back to 2009 and the release of fun.’s debut album Aim and Ignite. You would have to go back to 2010, where they opened for Jack’s Mannequin, Relient K, and Paramore. To enjoy their latest release, Some Nights, you need only listen.
Personally, I didn’t listen to The Format when they were around. Then in 2008, when The Format called it quits and one of its founders Nate Ruess formed fun., I still wasn’t aware of what I was missing. It wasn’t until 2010 when a friend was wearing a fun. T-shirt and I asked about it that I finally checked out Aim and Ignite and ultimately watched them in concert in Las Vegas, opening for Paramore. I was blown away. I found they were aptly named and their live performance reflected that.
I really enjoyed their debut album. I knew they had something special there. I was eager to hear their new album and I didn’t really know what to expect. What I got was a sound that, upon reaching my ears, instinctively brought a smile to meet them. The album begins with “Some Nights (Intro)” an intro that brings to mind Queen’s famous “Bohemian Rhapsody”, with a piano backing reminiscent of Gary Jules’ version of “Mad World.” That they managed to pack so much fire and grandiosity into an intro only slightly longer than two minutes is a testament to the band and a great way to start off the album.
This transitions into the mighty title track, “Some Nights.” This song is Vampire Weekend meets autotune and I love the choral quality of the backing vocals harmonizing so well with the lead vocals of Nate Ruess. The song begins a cappella and features a driving percussion that makes me want to dance. Nate Ruess can hit some amazingly high notes. Lyrically, it explores the life of an artist traveling and pursuing the dream of a music career and what sacrifices must be made.
The next track has been in circulation since last year. “We Are Young” features Janelle Monáe, a very unique artist known for wearing tuxedos and a pompadour haircut and creating an alter-ego Cindi Mayweather, who just happens to be an android. Her inclusion alone should turn some heads, but the song was also covered by the cast of Glee back in December. I know a lot of people will probably hear about fun. through Glee and maybe check out more of their music and that’s awesome. While I personally stopped watching Glee a few months back, it’s a phenomenon and a new forum for songs to become popular to a whole new audience. I prefer fun.’s version of the song because there is so much power in Nate Ruess’s voice and the addition of Janelle Monáe’s voice is complementary. The song has mass appeal and there is a reason for that: it’s great.
“Carry On” provides a nice change of pace. A few strums on an acoustic guitar and a beautiful melody on the piano set the tone for Nate Ruess’s calm vocals. Of course, the song only begins slowly. Nate Ruess’s voice, if I may wax synesthetic for a moment, is bright as the sun at times, particularly evident on this track.
“It Gets Better” is Death Cab for Cutie meets Blink-182 meets ‘80s pop on crack. A marching drum beat dances its way into a synth electric infectious ‘80s vibe. If you’re reading this, know that none of this is a bad thing. Lyrically, it’s basic, but that makes it easy to sing along with and ultimately makes it a song that’s hard to get out of your head.
Next up is “Why Am I the One”. This is an interesting story song about a lover feeling that his relationship may not be what it once was. It’s not the most outstanding track on the album, but it explores an emotional depth that the listener can relate to. I really like its crescendo into a kind of background noise outro, which fades into the next song.
“All Alone” beautifully serves as a male counterpart to Katy Perry’s “Mannequin”, describing a female lover as a toy. I love the line “how do you cry with inanimate eyes? You’re never going to smile with the way that you’re wired. Sadly, along with the last song, I can relate to the feeling of having a distant, aloof, girlfriend and I’m so glad to have gotten past that, but I love the way this song is crafted lyrically and it sounds so happy and upbeat musically, but it’s a sad story. Wonderful dichotomy here by fun.
Okay, I’m beginning to sense a theme here. “All Alright” is about a broken heart. “I’ve got nothing left inside of my chest, but it’s all alright,” sings Nate Ruess in the chorus. This song plays like an anthem for anyone who has ever had a broken heart, which most people can relate to. It’s positive, possibly sarcastic and surprisingly upbeat given the subject matter.
“One Foot” has all the brass and beats of a school marching band. Ruess sings about the inevitability of death and the importance of being yourself and trying to make your way in this life. The lyrics speak of rejecting religion and a profound respect for his father. It’s an interesting song that, like I mentioned, immediately brings to mind an image of marching, which I’m sure was intentional, based on the lyric “I put one foot in front of the other one, I don’t need a new love or a new life, just a better place to die.”
“Stars” is a heavily auto tuned track that evokes the feeling of a live concert encore. There is a crowd clapping and cheering, a touch also present on the album’s intro, complete with faded vocals drowned out by the crowd. What follows is another interesting look at life on the road, a summary of what it feels like to be famous on a daily basis. It’s the opposite of Nickelback’s “Rockstar”. This song touches on the idea that rock stars are revered as heroes or gods, but in reality they’re just broken people who will disappoint you. The longest track on the album at nearly seven minutes is an excellent closer.
Of course, the album doesn’t end there. “Out on the Town” is included as a bonus track. A rapid drum beat drives this song, with instrumentals that again invoke a feeling of nostalgic ‘80s pop. It’s a John Hughes movie in song form. It also reminds me of Wilco somewhat. All in all, not a bad inclusion on the album.
If you’re looking for something easy to listen to that will most certainly bring a smile to your face, check out the latest offering from Fun. If you like this album I would strongly encourage you check out their first album Aim and Ignite as well.
Check out: “Some Nights” and “One Foot”