fun. had a first album easily commendable for its immediate accessibility and undeniable flair for alternative that simply popped. Lead Nate Ruess took every learned lesson from previous band The Format, and consolidated all his effort into a better produced, more radical style that just plain works. Some Nights is his follow up to 2009′s phenomenal Aim and Ignite, and in many ways it’s a step forward for a band which appeared to be a one-trick pony. Fans of their previous work will find this one a mostly logical progression, although anyone joining in from the Format ages may be less accommodating.
Chances are you’ve heard “We Are Young,” one of this year’s early hits. A product of one fantastic build-up, this single embodies the anthem method amid minimal instrumentation, exuding a dramatic effect that’s hard not to relate to. It rests snugly in the first half of Some Nights, itself a reflective portion of the album which doesn’t particularly push the bar much. The title song and its intro are companion tracks reminiscent of “Be Calm” and “All The Pretty Girls” from Aim and Ignite but with better production and more confidence. On the other end of “We Are Young” is “Carry On,” a straight-forward but engaging track which prominently displays Ruess’ unique vocal range.
From then on though, things begin to change. For while the strongest part of Some Nights clearly is its first few hooking tracks, the rest of the album shows off Ruess and team’s ability to play around and move their sound in new directions. In “It Gets Better” and “One Foot” they experiment with the over-production characteristically seen in noise rock, at times using strange methods of percussion or high-end voice modulation. “Why Am I The One” channels the singer/songwriter style of the 70′s and 80′s, a piano-led piece which is reminiscent of Elton John tracks from his prime. There’s even some playful electronic sampling done in “All Alone,” which works together with the more traditionally anthemic “All Alright” as two tracks which are just as home today as they could have been in the mid-90′s.
What each track has in common with the last though is the placement of Ruess’ unbelievable voice in the mix. It doesn’t matter what style is layered behind him, because he impresses through to the last minute of Some Nights. Those who enjoyed his original work with The Format may be put off by the clear transition Ruess made from indie pop to straight up pop, but it’s difficult to disapprove of that choice after listening a few times to Some Nights. The only hesitance towards giving it an exceptional review is that “We Are Young” nor any singles that result here are going to last all that long. This is because fun. are arguably for a more niche audience than some of the dance pop bands right now. But if you want some pop music that’s trying to move things forward, try out Some Nights.