Some Nights

Written by: DR on 21/02/2012 19:25:26

2012 promises to fun.'s year. With a major label push courtesy of Fueled By Ramen (or should that be Warner?) their lead single, "We Are Young", was covered on the dreaded television series Glee and was featured in a commercial that aired during the Superbowl. It subsequently reached #1 in the iTunes chart this February - though originally released in September. It may be stating the obvious, but fun. are on the verge of a genuine mainstream breakthrough. This inevitable success will inevitably attract scornful glances, but let's be honest: mainstream pop music is crying out for a band like fun.

If you have followed them this far you are unlikely to be deterred by their newly found zeal for eccentric, shameless, perhaps over the top, production. The drums are programmed, everything is made to sound squeaky clean, and Nate is hardly shy in his use of vocoder. Though, where pop music in general uses a computer to make everything sound perfect as a means to disguise the lack of exceptional talent, to such an extent where genuine human qualities are practically undetectable, is where fun. ultimately emerge victorious. The production is generally flawless and makes everything sound utterly spotless, but the sincerity of the band, particularly that of frontman Nate Reuss, beams triumphantly through.

As a result of the grandiose production, fun.'s knack for penning memorable choruses and uplifting melodies, and the lyrical insights into the mind of Nate, comparisons with Queen are inevitable. For instance, opener "Some Nights (Intro)" has more than just shades of "Bohemian Rhapsody" about the quick shots of choral vocals, and the likes of title-track "Some Nights" and "Carry On" feature guitar licks that even Brian May would be proud of. However, while these comparisons would seem inescapable, they are not going to hold the band back as the charisma of fun. is undeniable and helps see them establish themselves as an assured pop outfit in their own right.

The opening one-two salvo of aforementioned "Some Nights (Intro)" and "Some Nights" is stunningly good. Moreover, it perfectly demonstrates the inconsistencies in Nate's personality from one night to the next, a thought that inspired the album title. The curtain-raiser reaches theatrical highs as Nate cries "Oh my God! Have you listened to me lately? / Lately, I've been fucking crazy!", but despite how dramatic that, or the climax "Sooooome Niiiiiights!!", may seem, they perfectly set the tone for the record. Acting as a counter-part to the opener is the title-track "Some Nights", a beautifully textured pop juggernaut, in which the introspective lyrics and the wit of Nate absorb you as he leads you through his self-confliction in the opening verses, ultimately finding the light and coming out the other side in glorious, and sincere, fashion.

A large part of why "Some Nights" succeeds is that fun. are able to stretch their sound to extravagant highs, but it never feels needless or, even worse, like a desperate ploy. Take "All Alright": you would think the positivity imbued into the chorus, courtesy of a choir of children, is a bit too sweet. But, Nate sounds honest, even tired, as he earnestly sings the simple hook "It's all alright / I got nothing left inside of my chest, but it's all alright", ultimately proving there is beauty within simplicity. Closer "Stars" is arguably the finest song on the album, although the use of vocoder is going to prove too much for some to stomach. Nate proves throughout the record his voice is wonderful, so his use of vocoder isn't to disguise a lack of talent, but to add another instrument to the soundscape. The composition of instruments, as though reaching for the stars themselves, are otherworldly, and the vocoded vocals sit perfectly melting atop.

The album has a few missteps, however. Despite, obviously, proving a good choice for lead single, "We Are Young" is actually one of the weaker efforts. The first forty-seconds or so are typically quirky fun. and Nate's delightful wordplay, but the song soon descends into a rut that largely consists of the same weak hook: "Tonight, we are young / So let's set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun". Nate's vocals have seldom sounded quite so smooth and angelic, but the song overall feels lethargic. In addition to this is "It Gets Better", likely to be fun.'s most polarising effort to date. Drenched in effects to the point of the instrumentation feeling insipid and the vocals oddly robotic, it has a surprising simplicity to it - one that some will no doubt love - but not only does it feel a strange venture for the fun., the placing of it between "Carry On" and "Why Am I The One" is awkward to the point where you'll be tempted to skip it altogether. Furthermore, it makes the misfire of the rather trite "Carry On" seem good, though still nowhere as affecting as it wants to be.

In polishing their sound and becoming unafraid of throwing themselves into fully fledged pop music, fun. are bound to lose a few fans. This probably won't matter to them, though, as they are sure to gain slews more. It's not that there should be anything wrong with a band becoming popular, it's that the acts that usually are, are boring farts devoid of ideas and personality. With fun., the opposite is true. "Some Nights" is brimming with ideas - over-flowing, if anything. Ultimately, there should be no shame in taking to a record that is as shamelessly pop as "Some Nights" because, let's be honest, pop music needs a band like fun. in its bloodstream.


Download: Some Nights (Intro), Some Nights, All Alright, Stars
For The Fans of: Queen, The Format
Listen: FBR's Soundcloud

Release Date 21.02.2012
Fueled By Ramen

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