The second album from Indiepop band fun., Some Nights, releases February 21st and it is big! The music is big. The voices are big. The sound is big. Some Nights blends political and personal observances of the world into the musical equivalent of a big (refreshing) bucket of water over the head.
Together about four years, Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff have already garnered much deserved praise for their first album, Aim and Ignite.
With their follow up, Some Nights, released by Fueled by Ramen, fun. continue the theme of melding a 70s rock-opera anthem vibe with modern instrumentation. Their honest brand of musicianship is refreshing and engaging. From the start of the album, “Some Nights Intro,” the listener gets a sense of just how confident the band is in their work and their message. I love the intro. Intros are a lost art and fun.puts it to use perfectly. The intro hints that there’s a story you’re about to be told and makes you really want to hear it.
Very quickly it’s clear that Nate’s voice will be your guide through the bombastic harmonies that drive forward from song to song. If Nate’s voice is your guide, Andrew and Jack provide the vehicles of keyboard and guitar and rhythms that positively soar through every track. Pleasantly poppy keyboards and the occasional surprise guitar solo are layered in with drum, synth and even brass. Aided by noted producer Jeff Bhasker (Drake, Jay Z, Alicia Keys, among others), the whole of Some Nights is delivered with a brilliant confidence.
The openness of the lyrics combined with the warmth of the instrumentation creates a powerful force from “Intro” through the bonus track, “Out on the Town.” The message, though sometimes sad, feels optimistic and the music is rich and engaging.
Ten tracks (plus one bonus) on the album and each delivers its own something special. We’ve reviewed the teaser single “We Are Young” here on IYS and that initial review stands.
Only two tracks out of the 11 (counting the bonus and the intro) are slightly weaker than the whole. “It Gets Better”, a great message and a good song but the repetitive use of sound effects on Nate’s voice feel unnecessary. When combined with the quirky tappy synth the song sticks out as harsh in an album that otherwise isn’t. Track 10, “Stars,” suffers from the same type of overworking. It starts out with a great build but then the music seems to die back and consequently Nate’s voice loses its support. There’s something vaguely awkward about the song and it just doesn’t seem up to the same standard, musically or vocally, as the rest of the album.
“Why Am I the One” showcases Nate’s voice beautifully. I love the guitar work here. It feels slightly unexpected and it takes the song over the edge into anthem territory. “All Alone” is a punchy and kicky track that belies the angst of the lyrics. It floats on after a brilliant intro with shades of hip hop in the mix after a wonderfully chippy start. “All Alright” is a simply brilliant song. Again, juxtaposing bittersweet lyrics over kicky music creates emotion and feeling; really just an amazing track. The bonus track “Out on the Town” is probably one of my favorites of the whole set for the message as well as the music; a handbook for how to shake off regret and fly under your own power.
Overall, the album feels and sounds solid, like concrete kind of solid. This band knows who they are and what they want to say and they start telling you from the first beat of the first song. Talented song writing is showcased in lyrics that touch and tell a story everyone can identify with and music that drives and sails through your speakers like a promise. fun. really hit the mark with Some Nights. The band has proven that even when there’s great anticipation around a band’s second album, that anticipation can be lived up to and in some cases surpassed. With this release fun. have clearly carved out their own fun.-shaped niche in the world.