Fun. Some Nights(Fueled by Ramen) Buy it from Insound
I'm not sure where exactly Fun. went wrong. Nate Reuss's previous band The Format were an intriguingly eclectic indie rock band, and even after their break up, Fun.'s first album Aim and Ignite offered theatrical and orchestral pop hooks that seemed to be breaking new ground. In fact, one could even go as far as to say that there was potential for growth. And yet, after signing with Atlantic subsidiary Fueled by Ramen and teaming up with producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Beyonce, Bruno Mars), they release an album that breaks every low standard for pop relevance. Propelled by hit single We Are Young, expectations were high for this year's sophomore release, Some Nights.
Right from the album opener – the all too cleverly titled Some Nights – Intro – we are taken from (formerly) indie pop band Fun. and moved to a modern Broadway musical/wannabe rock opera gone haywire. The curtain opens, there's the faint applause of an audience, then Reuss introduces our tormented, angsty protagonist over the aimless vibrato of an opera singer, a repetitive piano scale, and various spoken voices. Comparisons to Queen are inevitable, but this opening seems criminally reminiscent of Death on Two Legs (Dedicated To...) from A Night at the Opera. Plights of identity-seeking amnesia are wailed over Queen-inspired choruses and obnoxiously auto-tuned melismas in the presumptive overture, Some Nights.
Queue the monumental stadium anthem We are Young, which saturates the overly-used, monotonous cliches of being young, setting the world on fire, burning brighter than the sun, so on and so forth. Unfortunately, some poor, misinformed thirteen year old probably views this as a great literary achievement in pop music. Regardless, as far as pop music goes, this single is really not all that bad. Considering the rest of Some Nights, this is truly the least of my worries, and may actually be the only tolerable four minutes on the album.
Carry On would have been more than half listenable if Jack Antonoff didn't awaken me from my daydream stupor with his attempt at a Brian May solo. And while auto-tuning is an essential part of Some Nights, it is taken to an obnoxious degree throughout the second half of the album – namely making its unwelcome siege on our eardrums in It Gets Better (and trust me, it doesn't get better).
As much as I'd like to blame the entire mess of Some Nights on Nate Reuss and co., we can't forget that there was someone else involved. Someone had to man the boards outside of the studio, offering feedback and possibly giving the band some of these terrible ideas, all perhaps to make the album more commercially viable (and critically forgettable). After all, where in the world did Fun.'s pseudo-hip hop beats on All Alone and One Foot come from? And whose idea was it to allow Nate Reuss to be wildly auto-tuned throughout the entirety of Stars? Oh yes, Jeff Bhasker. Never underestimate the powers of production.
No matter who is to blame for this sonic travesty, ultimately what it comes down to is Some Nights being the most pretentiously unprovocative album to come out this year. No one could make such an awful attempt at artistic self-importance without actually believing in it. My only real concern is that Janelle Monáe agreed to be featured in We Are Young, considering that her sparse line, “carry me home tonight” features absolutely none of her incredible vocal talents. Her role has suffered from the fate of Some Nights: pop anonymity. There are virtually zero characteristics that distinguish Fun.'s new “sound” from any of the artists on Disney's payroll.
To quote Nate Reuss in Why Am I the Only One, “Oh, go on, go on, go on, if you were thinking that the worst is yet to come.
No thanks, I'll stop here.18 April, 2012 - 15:49 — David Hogg