Posted on August 25th, 2009 (1:27 pm) by Erika Dick

Each seasoned by their work with previous, successful bands, the members of the New York based trio returned to living room demos this past year with a refreshed zeal for musical creation. After months of fierce anticipation, their painstakingly wrought debut has finally arrived.

Much to the dismay of devoted fans, The Format called it quits last year, declaring an “indefinite hiatus.” But frontman Nate Ruess, could not be deterred. With music still on his mind and potential songs on the tip of his tongue, Nate called up friends Andrew Dost and Jack Antanoff to request their skills and inspiration to help with his budding project. So began the cooperation that would be dubbed, simply, “fun.” For these lively, spirited, and talented lads, no name could be more appropriate. Their debut album is a whirlwind, vibrant, circus-like act that has stirred up so much anticipation that shows have been selling out weeks in advance – even long before the actual release of an album.

Aim and Ignite kicks off with a vivacious kind of waltz. The tune begins with the serious hum and strum of an accordion and a violin that (though a bit comic) sets the stage for the drama that is to come. “Be Calm” is a masterpiece in and of itself. The song is winding, swirling, dynamic, and constantly moving. The strings provide a pulse upon which the tempo builds in increasing tension until the wailing chorus offers release. And though the music is upbeat, there is a dark undertone that reveals itself amidst the optimistic lyrics. The second track, “Benson Hedges,” follows with an old-timey and classic pop sound, with a slight Southern gospel style taking the hard edges off of the song's depressing lyrics – “I don’t care to be forgiven / I only want to be forgotten.”

“All The Pretty Girls” changes gears, but does not let up on the intensity. This tune reaches towards Beach Boys style harmonies in a high-energy blast of romance: “Oh come one, what’s a boy to do when all the pretty girls don’t measure to you?” Romantic tones extend into a few other sugary sweet tracks. “Light A Roman Candle With Me” sounds a bit like an old show-tune. Lyrics like “We’re young / We smell good / We’re alone / So alive” give the song a suggestive, yet charming distinction from other tracks like “The Gambler” which is quaint and reminiscent. The piano keys dance lightly, and the strings glide softly across the tender memories recounted -- “I swear when I grow up I will buy you a rose / I will buy a flower shop and you will never be lonely.”

In between the dramatics and the romantics are irrepressibly joyous celebrations of life, melody, brass bands, and word play. At first tracks like “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)” and “Take Your Time (Coming Home)” might seem to be a bit much – too full of too much sound, trying too hard to be too over-the-top – but subsequent listens reveal the impressive layers of instrumentation, the implications of the fast-paced lyrics, and an incredible depth of energy.

The result: an album that gets better and better with each listen. This is an album contagious in vivacity and spirit; undeniable passion and vigor seeps out of every meticulously placed note. This album has the kind of heart that deserves the attention of fans and doubters alike: if you give Aim and Ignite a chance, it will surely spark a similar hope and effervescence in you, one that cannot be easily deterred.

Track List:
1. Be Calm (4:10)
2. Benson Hedges (4:00)
3. All The Pretty Girls (3:23)
4. I Wanna Be The One (3:36)
5. At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) (4:07)
6. Light A Roman Candle With Me (3:05)
7. Walking The Dog (3:40)
8. Barlights (4:17)
9. The Gambler (4:11)
10. Take Your Time (Coming Home) (7:51)

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