Album: Some Nights
Label: Fueled by Ramen
Released: February 14, 2012
Genre: Indie Pop
So how fun is Fun.? A good question one may ask. I got a better one though. Is the period silent? Unfortunately I have nary an answer to either of these questions; however, one thing I can provide is a review to the newest Fun. Album “Some Nights” released back in February of this year. Currently their single “We are Young” is being plagued by the typical problem of commercial radio stardom and is overplayed. Following en suite is their second single off the album, the title track “Some Nights.” Let’s see if this album is all just radio hype or truly worth a listen!
Now before I get into this I am going back up for a second. When I say “We are Young” is plagued I do not mean that it is a terrible tune. I am merely pointing out that many bands get shafted due to the behind the scenes bureaucratic fat cat nonsense of the music industry, which unfortunately means the song is being left on repeat. Apart from all that though, I am here to look into the music not everything revolving around it.
Like many albums Some Nights starts off with a powerful intro in order to draw the listener in and I must say it instantly did just that. Up to the point I listened to the album in its entirety I had only heard “We are Young” so I didn’t know what to expect out of the rest. It wasn’t just the intro that got me; the first few songs, albeit they were the singles, were great and really drew me into the album quite nicely. It felt different. Sure it is poppy, but Fun. managed to grab hold of a sense of uniqueness. These days with pop being a very mainstream orientated genre it is nice to see a band step it up and add twists to keep it fresh.
Unfortunately, after the gripping start to the album and as I continued to listen, Some Nights began to just sound average. By that I don’t mean it started to sound like everything else out there, but that musically it didn’t appeal too much. Specifically the song “It Gets Better” I find really does not add to this album musically. However, it was something different and I always like to commend artists to try something out of the ordinary. The song overall just felt too busy and messy. Similarly “One Foot” has this very same problem and was a little busy instrumentally. On a tonal viewpoint the instruments sound great, but it seems like at points too many sounds are hitting you at once, which really takes away from each instrument individually. Throughout the entire album there was only one moment where I felt any true impact from a particular instrument – this being the guitar solo at ~2:35 in the song “Carry On”. It felt both punchy and smooth and the delivery was excellent.
As for the stand out point of the entire album I would have to agree with most critics out there; vocalist Nate Reuss is truly phenomenal. Many comparisons are being made with him and Freddie Mercury of Queen and the thing is those comparisons are being made for a very good reason. Nate has a very rich voice and excellent vocal range and the unbelievable thing is he has no formal vocal training. Hearing him belt out the lyrics “some nights” at the end of the intro blew me away and I knew from that point onward it would be a treat hearing his voice throughout the album. Unfortunately I was left slightly disappointed to find moments where I felt unsure of his vocal direction. Specifically, the use of the vocoder used predominately in “It Gets Better” and “stars” left me feeling…..uh….well you know what I really just do not have an answer as to how I felt.
A quick informative aside here because many people have knocked Nate for using autotune when in fact they aren’t quite right. There are many people out there who are getting mixed up with a vocoder and autotune. So I am going to clear the air a little here for you fine folks.
A vocoder is a specific effect. It takes vocals and synth-notes and uses these two inputs at the same time then delivers them as a single output. The resulting sound is almost like a combo of the two creating a very nifty sound using the melody of the synth, combined with the sound of the voice. Auto-tune is a plug-in which corrects the users pitch. This is commonly used to alter the vocals to hit the right pitch for an entire verse/chorus/or entire song. Sometimes this is done through similar vocoder based techniques, but they ARE NOT the same thing. The unfortunate thing about auto tune that gives it such a bad name is that many people use it to fix the fact they have no ability to hit a particular sound. I think both of these can be used to enhance an already talented individual, but should never be used to cover up and fix someone who is lacking. In any case I am not advocating one thing is better over the other here, just figured I would give you the gift of knowledge.
We are back! Nate. Vocoder. Meh. Like I had mentioned before I just don’t know if I like the approach of using a vocoder on the album. Nate’s voice is just so good that the effect took away from his natural sound. However, at the same time it did still feel like it fit properly when used. It was used tastefully and did add a quirky sound. Overall the entire album was quite solid for especially for a pop band. Fun. managed to keep the music original and accessible and even though the album got progressively worse there were moments of glory in the later tracks. The instrumental side of the band was over the top, which worked both favorably and against them. It added new sounds, but also the mix felt way to crowded. I must say that “Some Nights” is an album that truly proved that Fun. Is fun.