on February 22, 2012
First, a word about the auto-tuning. I will say that I am generally averse to electric manipulation of the voice. The difference here is that Fun. uses auto-tuning, not to compensate for the soloist's inability to sing (as a disturbingly increasing number of popular artists do these days -- as we have seen in his live performances Nate Ruess can really belt one out). Fun. uses auto-tune as a completely valid musical instrument; it's done tastefully and appropriately, not to compensate for some vocal shortcoming. Sans auto-tune, Nate Ruess is a strong high tenor who sings without vibrato, making his high notes in "We Are Young" sound pretty effortless.
The record is one where you don't find yourself skipping over tracks. Each is packed with a catchy melody. There is not one weak link in the record, with the exception being "It Gets Better" (track 5), but even this is not a bad song at all.
For many, "We Are Young," with its massive, anthemic chorus used in a Chevy commercial and episode of Fox's Glee, is the track that exposed them to Fun. For the rest of us that have been with Nate since his days in The Format, this record is the sophomore record with Fun., following the phenomenal "Aim and Ignite." There is no "sophomore slump" here where a good indie band becomes a bit more popular and a bit more commercialized. Rather Fun. has partly moved away from the sound of "Aim and Ignite" developed their own sound out of an effective blending of different styles and genres:
At some instances ("Intro" and "Some Nights") Nate Ruess seems to summon Queen. The chorus "Why Am I the One" is tinged with early Elton John. Select bars in "All Alone" echo of early Maroon5, while a heavy bass and short, simple ostinato in "One Foot" are quite obviously Ruess's use of hip-hop elements. This track is a standout, showcasing Fun.'s songwriting ability -- a melody that builds in intensity over a simple repetition of a simple 1-1-4-5 chord progression. The track "Stars" starts out as a run-of-the-mill alternative rock piece, then without transition, changes character into an extended R&B influenced segment with effective (not compensatory) use of auto-tune cradled by classically-inspired strings. It blends these influences together into something original-sounding, while somehow retaining its indie roots. Each song is in a key signature that is closely related the previous song, making the entire album fit together as one whole, well-crafted structure. Musicians will be thrilled at this.
Musically, the songs are filled with masterful instrumentations and compositional techniques that keep the listening experience interesting. For example, stark tempo changes, as in "We Are Young," and modulations to minor key as in the end of "One Foot" aren't just clever insertions. Rather, they compliment the already memorable melodies.
on March 22, 2012
I'm 55, as keenly interested in music as I was at 18. It's work to stay hip, and a lot of hip stuff is just indulgent navel-gazing LPs wrapped around one clever hit. Anyhow, THIS is different, because it is such well-crafted pop. It's every modern sound in pop music, great melodies and beats, with a strong tenor to sing it. Most of all, it's instantly accessible to kids, to teens, to hipsters, to Gen-X, to boomers. You'd have to have a hard and bitter heart not to like this.
Many write about auto-tune here. I too lament its over-use in pop, but it works here as an enhancement, not a coverup for deficient vocal talent.
on February 22, 2012
I saw this band play on Conan last night, they played youth anthem We Are Young, and I recognized the song, but could not place where I knew it from until I heard it on a car commercial afterwards. So, I knew the tune but fell in love with it when I saw it performed live. They were great, the singer has a great voice, great musical backing with a very nice sounding female backup vocalist. Also of note was the children's choir they brought along to sing their "na na, na na na na na"'s in the background.
I was moved by the performance, so I bought the album right away and stuck in on my phone to give it a listen while I ran some errands today. Needless to say, the whole album is stellar, especially the first 5 songs which I listened to multiple times because I enjoyed it so much. Highly recommend this album to everyone, it is fun to listen to and has some really good lyrics and music.
on February 21, 2012
This is just a great, great album. I'd been streaming it for the last week or so, and it's just so fresh and so energetic. The songs capture a wild, passionate and youthful sound in the vein of The Naked and Famous, Foster the People and Cage the Elephant. It's the kind of music that makes you want to jump for joy and do wild and crazy things---just see the video for "We Are Young" ([...]). I'm not promoting violence, though, so be good. :)
on March 19, 2012
If you love "We Are Young" (and apparently you would be in good company as it is Billboard's #1 song at this time), you will also love this CD. And I do too. This is one of those rare CD's where there is one song after another that you will like on the first hearing!
While there may be some purists who are offended by the use of anything electronic, there are other "purists" (myself included) that look at the whole picture and how the electronics affect the quality of the production...but most of all, is the album "fun" to listen to. It's hard not to immediately start tapping your feet or nodding your head when listening to "Some Nights", "Carry On", "Why Am I the One" and "All Alone". That is not to say that the other songs aren't good also. To me, there is not one bad song on this CD.
So give it a try. You will not be disappointed!
on May 23, 2012
This CD gives me hope for the future of rock music. It's incredibly thrilling to hear a band that produces such strong, fresh, and interesting melodies and vocals that are as good as anything rock has produced since the 60s. The lyrics are perfectly fine, but the melodies and song structures are so strong that they seem to call for equally strong lyrics, and so by contrast they seem a little disappointing. What really makes this CD so compelling for me is the enthusiasm and energy they project and the singing, which is startling in its soaring range. The first time I heard We Are Young, it was almost as exciting as the first time I heard the Kink's You Really Got Me in 1964 (and to be clear, the musical sophistication here is leagues beyond the Kinks). My one complaint about the CD is the production, which is heavy handed and full of the usual heavily processed computerized noises, particularly in the bass and drums. For most of the music being made these days, this kind of heavy production is necessary, because there's no real melody to speak of, and singers, when they sing at all, are extremely weak. But this music doesn't need any props or cosmetics, and the production in this case actually gets in the way of the music. Next time, they need a producer who recognizes great songwriting and singing and who understands that production is supposed to bring out and support those things. But don't let that stop you from buying this. It is the freshest, best thing I've heard in many years, and the songs are completely stuck in my head, as they will be in yours.
Big, full harmonies, sunny melodies, a twisted sense of humor... It's hard not to enjoy "Some Nights" by Fun. Ambition to burn, big grandiose production, lyrics that sting a little deeper as you listen, this is an album that aims high. "Some Nights" will thrill old classic rock fans as it echoes their memories of Queen and ELO, at the same time uses modern beats and (although I consider it a drawback) autotune on a few songs.
Fun does a great job in pulling its influences into a full sounding album. I can listen to this and play spot the resource over and over. Even better, I can listen to this disc over and over. The combined influences still ride a pop rail, and "Some Nights" is an early contender in my faves for 2012.
on March 16, 2013
I enjoyed this album, though I think almost every song could have benefited from not having the auto-tuning as part of the song. Still, even the auto-tuning is artisticly used so I can forgive them for it.
I appreciated having the "explicit" lyrics removed, but if you are getting the bonus track you should note the the swearing has not been removed from that track. I also appreciate that the album costs significantly more without the swear words - this serves as a good object lesson for my kids, showing that swearing makes things (e.g. albums, people) less valuable. ;)
on April 23, 2012
I'm going to start out by saying that I've been a fan of Nate's musical endeavors since I first heard the Format's "Dog Problems" and still love almost everything he does. I try to evaluate the record on its own, but I will compare it to his previous work in a few places. I admit comparisons aren't everything, and a piece of art should be evaluated by itself, but I feel it must be done here.
1. Some Nights (Intro)
This is my favorite song on the record. I heard the slow piano intro and was prepared for another quirky, great, fun. record. Nate's singing is superb on this and it serves as a great intro to the record.
2. Some Nights
The title track is another great song, although very different to some of his previous work. Very poppy and synthy, which is a a theme throughout the whole record.
3. We Are Young
The lead single from the record. I actually quite like this song, but its over-saturation in my life has caused it to grow stale for me. But I still like it, and in a few months when it's "Old" to the masses, I will like it again. (I guess that sounds snobbish, but I've heard it too much and need a break.)
4. Carry On
This is a song that I feel would not be too out of place on a Format record. Its slow acoustic beginning launching into a inspirational chorus that then gains volume with Simon and Garfunkel-esque percussion, albeit electronic. Strip it of its synths, and It wouldn't be out of place on Dog Problems.
5. It Gets Better
Crap. Just Crap. Lyrically, it's lazy. Musically, it's annoying. The worst song on the record and I almost wanted to stop listening here. But I kept going and I'm glad I did.
6. Why am I the One
Just like "Carry On," I could see this easily residing on a Format record. Albeit with better percussion, but it's still a cool tune. A little lazy on the lyrics-I hate hearing words like "stuff" in songs. Nate, it was fine for the first repeat in the chorus, but how about a change for the second repetition? Still pretty good.
7. All Alone
So Silly, but infectious, like most good pop tunes. Its synthesized quality and cool beat all point to this being a single. As long as it isn't ruined like "We Are Young" by overexposure, I wouldn't mind it being a hit.
8. All Alright
Not bad. It just seems that lyrically the band was a little lazy here. Not really anything that appeals to me as a standout track here, but every album has at least one. "Dog Problems" even did. (For me it was "Pick Me Up," but that's a different review.)
9. One Foot
Kicking off with a awesome horn line, I was expecting a great tune. And I got one. Although Nate does explicitly defy the Catholic/Christian faith in the second verse, which make me a little shaky on this tune just for that. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but other than that, it's musically a great, catchy tune. I see it as it's his views and he's allowed to express it. It's still an awesome song. The modulation into a minor-ish key at the end is a nice touch.
One hyphenated word: Auto-Tune. Honestly, it's a freaking great song without the auto-tune. The song was so much better before Nate added it to his voice. I admit, this is one of the few times it is on this record, but it was applied to heavily here. Nate's voice is beautiful and this song is too. Without the auto-tune.
This record is much different from Nate's previous work. If you liked him for his quirkiness and can't stand poppy, synthy stuff (like Neon Trees), you're not gonna like this record. If you liked the quirkyness but don't mind poppy stuff, this album is a good buy. As long as you don't mind the dud in the middle of the record, and can look past the caked-on auto-tune of "Stars," I'd say give it a listen.
on December 8, 2012
Upon listening to the lyrics, Fun. numerous times references loving family, thinking of family, leaving family. It's sentimental, sort of.
While I really enjoy the music, I can't help but think one of the more catchy tracks, "One Foot," portrays an anti-Christian message, claiming we can save ourselves, we do not need the love of God. While I realize this doesn't bother everyone, I found myself singing along, then suddenly wondering "WHAT are they saying?!" and upon closer examination, it simply reaffirms my suspicion. Which is unfortunate.