One of the better albusm of 2009:
When indie favorites The Format broke up founding member Nate Ruess decided to follow his own muse and formed .fun, a band which knows no limits when it comes to style, instrumentation, composition, or any other “tion” in the book. The debut album, Aim and Ignite, is a mere ten songs but wowzers, what a whole bunch of ground these ten songs cover!
The opening song, “Be Calm”, is anything but, starting with an accordion and string section that brings a lilting melody to reluctant life. The song mellows, bemoaning “Why oh why” things must be so bad before the tempo picks up with flutes and more strings, leading the way to a mechanical sounding rhythm section and conversational vocals. The questions these voices bring are answered with inspirational horns and emotional post-rock beats that bring Queen to mind, frenetically growing to the lofty heights of a euphoric show tune finale. All this in just over four minutes, and a more enjoyable four minutes you’ll be hard pressed to find.
The rest of the album, while not as schizophrenic, is equally pleasant. “Benson Hedges” mixes rousing rock with a gospel choir and massive amounts of frantic energy. One of the best songs on the album, “All The Pretty Girls”, starts off with a wall of vocals, compliments of E.L.O., and quickly moves to a danceable, enthusiastic song accompanied by a solo violin that makes one think of Dexy’s Midnight Runner. “I Wanna Be The One” wastes no time in bringing in lots of horns and lots of Jellyfish influence, possibly because Ruess enlisted the help of former Jellyfish keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning Jr. A big swing beat and steel drum characterizes “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used to Be)”, contrasting its big singalong style to the following somber “Light A Roman Candle with Me”, a song which makes no attempt to hide its piano bar origins. Well, maybe it does try, using copious amounts of vocal harmonies, a bouncy bass driven happy beat, muted horns, and theatrical vocals that lift your spirits to soaring heights.
Despite having about fifty different instruments and a kitchen sink, the production is amazing, refusing to bog down these playful quirky songs with sonic sludge. As you might hope to expect from a band named .fun Aim and Ignite is forty minutes of amusing distractions from the doldrums of life. Good stuff? You bet, especially for fans of Mika and today’s batch of Queen-inspired indie-rock mavens.