fun. - Aim & Ignite
Review by Jack Foley
NEW York based three-piece fun. live up to their names with debut album, Aim & Ignite, a deliriously good fun pop trip.
Meddling with a diverse range of inspirations – spanning Broadway to The Beach Boys via ELO, The All-American Rejects and Queen – fun. have delivered the sort of album that just doesn’t know how to sit still.
The trio are comprised of Nate Ruess, late of The Format, and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff to create an LP they describe as a contemporary re-thinking of classic ’70s pop, and where ornate arrangements and inspired orchestrations meet present day rock ‘n’ roll.
The result, admittedly, takes a little adjustment, particularly during some of their more ambitious experimentations. But it’s also a rewarding, exuberant listen that succeeds in putting a smile on your face.
And there’s not really a dud track among them, such is the consistently high level of invention that’s gone into every song.
Album opener Be Calm, for instance, melds finely wrought chamber pop orchestrations – all brass and strings and multi-tracked harmonies – into the type of song that sounds like a sound-clash between a Broadway production and the type of ‘pop’ chorus that an American campus favourite such as The All-American Rejects or Panic At The Disco might be proud to call their own.
There’s a Hair-like sweep to the gospel-backed, harmony-strewn Benson Hedges, while former single All The Pretty Girls opens like a Queen opus (complete with Freddie Mercury-inspired vocals) before unfolding into a pop-rock offering that’s equal parts ELO and Mika. It’s a riot of energy and a Saturday night good-time anthem in waiting.
Pianos and string movements combine seamlessly with stabs of brass on the engagingly mid-tempo I Wanna Be The One, which in turn ushers you nicely into At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be), which is a definite album centre-point given its utterly striking mix of falsetto vocal flourishes, Caribbean vibes, festive horns and steel drums. It’s a carnival romp that puts you into a ridiculously good mood.
Elsewhere, another former single Walking The Dog (and IndieLondon single of the week!) trades some cute indie hooks with a euphoric pop sensibility befitting the likes of MGMT and Passion Pit. It also boasts one of the most sing-along choruses on the LP, complete with “na na na na na” harmonising.
Barlights mixes the format again, to offer some brassy, blue-eyed soul, while The Gambler contains swirling piano arrangements and another finely tuned story (lyrically) that demonstrates the breadth of their imaginations.
It almost seems a shame to arrive at final offering, Take Your Time (Coming Home), a lush, vibrant arrangement of pianos, Wilson-esque melodies, guitars and harmonic chanting. It’s a livewire, encore-style finish that rounds things off on a euphoric high.
fun. have put the fun into listening to pop-based music. Aim & Ignite is a blast… and chock full of the type of offerings that should make it onto the Glee cast cover list some time real soon!
Download picks: Be Calm, All The Pretty Girls, Walking The Dog, Take Your Time (Coming Home), At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)