Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, Anathallo, Billy Joel, Freddie Mercury, Fun, Queen, Releases of the Week, Steel Train, the Format
PREVIEW: Download fun.’s “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used to Be)” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 17/20 Watts
One of the most important comeback acts this year that no one’s talking about is fun. Featuring Nate Ruess of The Format, along with Steel Train‘s Jack Antonoff and Anathallo‘s Andrew Dost, fun. attempts to pick up where Ruess’ old band left off. However, gone is the melancholy and damaged lead singer of 2006’s Dog Problems, and in his place is somebody noticeably less broken. On Aim and Ignite, Ruess exudes a certain confidence one can’t just manufacture. He’s over it; the breakup of The Format, his relationship troubles and even those pesky “dog problems.”
Rather than the sometimes-goofy jangle pop approach taken with Ruess’ previous efforts, fun. utilizes a slightlydifferent tactic. Leaning on the stylings of Queen and Billy Joel, amongst others, Aim and Ignite is in essence, an ’80s rock album. From smooth and sentimental ballads, to the Freddie Mercury impressions and power chords, the album seemingly shouts an eccentricity rarely seen on 2009’s music scene.
What’s most intriguing about fun. may be the the band’s ability to exist independently of all of its members other projects, both past and present. As much as the band conjures images of The Format with Ruess’ voice, overall, the two are entirely different animals altogether. Same goes for the influences of Steel Train and Anathallo, whose own respective sounds make very few appearances.
At the same time, as evidenced by this review, its impossible to view fun. without talking about The Format. The much-celebrated and missed band left an indelible mark on music during their brief stay. The raw emotion that Ruess expertly captures in a bottle guided both his past and present bands, and it’s the main reason why he has succeeded to this point in his career. Regardless of the fact that his voice sounds a bit like a 12-year olds’, it is original and distinguished, and with more music around now than ever before, that becomes his greatest asset.
Throughout Aim and Ignite‘s fast, slow, loud and soft moments, it maintains a personality all its own. Moving on can be a tough theme to convey at times, yet it appears to thrive here while interspersed with a message about living your life as you want. Trust me, it’s not corny, as much as it may seem so now. It’s simply the only way Ruess knows how to do business, and business, in this case, is one of my favorites this year.
— John Cassillo