Album Review: fun. – Some Nights

The following are some terms in music that usually make me want to run for cover: indie, alternative, theatrical. Heck, even the words “band” and “rock” trigger a fair amount of uneasiness when it comes to my listening habits. So the fact that I even gave indie-pop band fun.’s newly released sophomore album Some Nights a listen should speak volumes to how much I adore the breakout single, “We Are Young.” And for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised by the album.

Pretty much everything I like about “We Are Young” is present somewhere else in the album: prominent beats, crisp clean vocals and an anthem-like sound that at the same time manages somehow to be light and joyful. One of the huge reasons I can actually deal with these songs is lead singer Nate Ruess’ voice, which is refreshingly clear. (Perhaps unfairly, whenever I imagine an indie band, the lead vocalist inevitably sounds like he’s gargling razor blades or whining incessantly.) His voice works as a solid centerpiece to the musical-like journey that Some Nights embarks upon.

The tracks that work best are the ones that build on a larger-than-life sound and don’t hold back on any of the over the top drama. “Some Nights – Intro” and “Some Nights” are a great set up for the album. They, along with “Carry On” are bombastic and straight up loud in the best way possible. They’re hilarious in a good, playful sense. The tracks feel dramatic without being overbearing or obnoxiously self-serious. That said, the standout track is definitely still “We Are Young” which brings all those qualities together with it’s subtly catchy and not-so-subtly soaring chorus. They try to repeat this magic in “One Foot” which covers the booming percussion section and repetitious chorus aspects well, but falls short just about everywhere else.

Usually I appreciate moderation, but Some Nights is really a case of the bigger, the better. The tracks that hold back or attempt to avoid overt theatricality end up being either bland and forgettable (“All Alright” and “Why Am I The One”) or, worse, aggressively generic and actively bad (“It Gets Better”). The sole exception, “All Alone” is a relatively low-key tune which somehow combines a little 90’s hip-hop flair with an intro that sounds like it was recorded straight off of an NES.

The album aptly closes with “Stars”, which goes on three minutes too long and is in parts amazingly energetic and in parts horrifically rote. It’s a little bit of all the good and a little bit of all the bad. Regardless, I’m shocked at how much of the album I found listenable and how much of it didn’t make me want to kill myself. This might seem like muted praise, but it’s really not coming from me. It’s a totally great album for anyone who might be remotely interested.

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