Sunday, February 26, 2012

Album Review: Some Nights by fun.

Indie supergroup fun. hit the scene in 2009 with Aim and Ignite. Some Nights takes the pleasant pop qualities of Aim and Ignite and tries to expand on them with some new musical components. There are some hits and misses amongst the new effects, but you can't hate them for trying.

The album opens with "Some Nights (Intro)," a song which adequately introduces some of the new roads this album travels down, whilst still feeling very much at home in their repertoire. It also serves to introduce the album title "some nights" as a common phrase. The phrase "some nights" is used in four different songs on the album. It can also be assumed from "Some Nights (Intro)" that Some Nights will have a slightly darker tone than that of Aim and Ignite. The band attempted to capture the tone of the song in the video, but I'm not entirely sure that I don't get more out of the song on its own.

"Some Nights" strays back toward the power pop feel of Aim and Ignite, but it also introduces Auto-Tune to the album. "Some Nights" is very catchy, and is only overshadowed by the following song "We Are Young," which became a huge hit single after it was covered on Glee. "We Are Young" was also used in a Chevy Sonic commercial which premiered during the Super Bowl. Even without these sales tactics in mind, the song has incredible flow and power to it that should be able to sell it on its own.

My favorite track on the album though, is probably "Carry On." "Carry On" seems as though it could be the theme for an Oscar-nominated movie. The Irish-influenced strings give it both strength and a sense of culture. "It Gets Better" took me a couple of listens to enjoy. At first, it sounds only a few inches away from an early 2000s alt. rock song, but it is more complicated and melodic, thus saving itself. "It Gets Better" also uses noticeable Auto-Tune. "Why Am I The One" seems like a throwback to lead singer Nate Ruess's days in The Format until it shifts into the chorus, which might be the most flowing of any chorus on the album. The chorus of "Why Am I The One" also features great harmonies borrowed from early 70s folk music.

"All Alone" is my favorite story song of the album. Ruess has a tendency to create amazing stories in his lyrics, and "All Alone" is a perfect example, even if I can hear late 90s boy bands in the melody of the chorus. One of the weaker songs on the album is "All Alright," which seems to have very little energy and an only vaguely interesting chorus. "One Foot" has a great, bouncy beat and a consistently interesting melody.

The only track on Some Nights that I truly dislike is "Stars." "Stars" starts out well enough, with references to the band's origins and dealing with new-found fame. The horns so prevalent on Aim and Ignite are brought to the forefront, and it seems that all will go well. Then, about halfway into the song, Ruess suddenly becomes some demented Kanye West clone, with all of the Auto-Tune they didn't use on other tracks splashed on in not-so-glorious technicolor. Generally, Nate Ruess has a good voice that lends itself well to the songs he sings. The Auto-Tune makes "Stars" sound dead and terrible. It's a pity that "Stars" is the official closer for the album.

I'm not sure how "Out on the Town" counts as a bonus track, since it seems to be on every copy of the album from what I can tell. Either way, "Out on the Town" is a much more pleasant and fitting closer for Some Nights than the artificial "Stars."

If Auto-Tune can't be counted as a fault in this album, I feel fun. should at least take note to use it in moderation. Apart from the use of computerized vocal enhancement, the production of this album is smooth and thoughtful. fun. bring in a lot of strings and instruments that some people forget have as much place on a pop album as anything else. It's nice to see the experiments performed on Some Nights, and I can't wait to hear the smoothed-out sound I'm sure their third album will have.

fun. are a group consisting of (left to right): Andrew Dost (of Anthallo), Nate Ruess (formerly of 
The Format), and Jack Antonoff (of Steel Train).

Some Nights can be previewed and purchased at the band's website.

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