Aim and Ignite

Written by: DR on 26/01/2010 14:43:10

The Format went on hiatus two years ago, but from those ashes rose fun. Nate Reuss (The Format) recruited Andrew Dost (Anathallo) and Jack Antonoff (Steel Train) and together they started writing songs immediately. Throw into the mix Steven McDonald on production duties, and arranger Roger Joseph Manning Jr, and try not to get too excited. If you didn't, (spoiler alert) you will by the end of this review.

Of late, I've been listening mostly to albums which require patience and time-biding, which is fine, but if you listen to too many within a short period you'll wear yourself out, as I very nearly did. fun. is just the injection of pop music I needed. And it is pop music, but don't have a hissy fit because I am fully aware this is "Aim and Ignite" is pop music as it should be: creative, unpredictable, unusual, and unbelievable fun (no more puns, promise).

Opener "Be Calm" is a vibrant and colourful piece with Reuss' voice as versatile as ever, seamlessly switching between the ranges speaking softly and aggressive falsetto, as he leads the music into constantly-changing flavours and lyrics that won't invoke anything other than a sense of affinity: "Take it from me, I've been there a thousand times / You hate your pulse because it thinks you're still alive, and everything's wrong / It just gets so hard sometimes / Be calm." First single "At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)" is a song about where Reuss further displays his lyrical genius: "So I left, that is it. That’s my life, nothing is sacred / I don’t keep friends, I keep acquainted / I’m not a prophet, but I’m here to profit / That’s all, I’m gone! That’s my life, nothing is sacred / I don’t fall in love, I just fake it." This track is easily one of the album highlights, as the chemistry between Reuss and the unknown sweet-voiced female singer is one of the best (out of many) collaborations on this album. It ends in melodramatic, Queen-esque territory, as the music swells in a Stage-Musical fashion.

fun. even bring a flamboyance to the slower songs. "The Gambler" being about love (aww), and featuring the entire string/horn/piano backdrop; whilst "Light A Roman Candle With Me" is relatively simple number, pianos and drums gently step along before the guitars stride in. Eight minute closer "Take Your Time (Coming Home) is the perfect summation for this audible adventure, displaying the band's ability for the quiet and the loud, and the downbeat and the upbeat until the guitars crash in to finish things off, ultimately leaving you gagging for more.

It's impossible to be anything other than delighted whilst listening to fun. It has the power to evoke cheer in the most miserable of men, because the songs surge through your body until you're "laughing and drinking and smoking and singing." This isn't The Format V2, it's a whole unique experience, and it is an experience. They transport you to their own little world where everything is bright, and everything is happy. Deliberately theatrical, and excessive without falling foul of being pretentious. One of the most necessary albums of 2009. This is pop music that you'll love.


Download: Be Calm, All The Pretty Girls, At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be), The Gambler
For the fans of: Queen, Portugal. The Man's "The Satanic Satanist", Mika, Motion City Soundtrack
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 25.08.2009

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