By Justin Lyons
It’s doubtful anyone would truly call fun. a “supergroup”, but their debut album Aim & Ignite showed promise as three talented musicians from indie acts banded together for a new project. Side projects come and go, but this trio featuring Nate Reuss (The Format), Jack Antonoff (Steel Train) and Andrew Dost (Anathallo) actually seem poised for something greater than their previous acts could achieve.
Aim & Ignite was a charming pop record, but the album seemed like a slightly more ambitious extension of Reuss’ previous band The Format. The growth since fun.’s first effort seems much more realized on Some Nights with lead singer Nate Reuss at the forefront of each track. A portion of the credit Some Nights will achieve can certainly be attributed to big name producer Jeff Bhasker, who has experience working with Jay-Z, Mr. West and Drake.
Each member of fun. is talented in their own right, but Reuss’ emotional flair and easily recognizable voice make for a strong front man. He stands out with the much-improved soundscapes married to his angst-filled lyrics. I like to think Bhasker and company realized what a huge talent Nate is and made him front and center of an act with arena ambition. Most tracks come full of anthemic, marching band qualities, but not in an overproduced, pompous way. “All Alone” aims for epic proportions with a light synth backing that sounds straight out of Disney’s Spectro Magic parade. Runaway hit “We Are Young” would have excelled even without its placement in a Chevy Super Bowl ad. The song’s half-inspirational/half-reckless theme and soaring hook expertly balance Reuss’ huge vocals and rallying choral and synth backing. Elsewhere, Bhasker’s production prowess adds a hip-hop edge that sonically meshes surprisingly well with Reuss’ engaging vocals. “It Gets Better” shines with driving guitar and unexpected 808’s peppering the inescapable and positive hook. Reuss experiments with Auto-Tune on “Stars,” combining banging drums and symphonic elements that sound like an ode to Kanye West’s “Lost In The World.”
fun. clearly has higher accolades in mind on Some Nights brimming with a plethora of big pop songs. From the social anxiety filled (and Queen-inspired) title track to the thought provoking “Carry On,” each track feels bigger than the next. In the end, “One Foot” seems to paint a portrait of the Reuss’ and the band’s motives. Knocking down preconceived notions of what fun. should be and pushing forward “one foot in front of the other” on a grander scale.
fun. plays a sold out show at Center Stage on March 9.